Tauranga mayor Tenby Powell says he'll make sure the city gets a slice of a massive new funding package to tackle homelessness.
Announced yesterday by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the $300 million package aims to reduce the use of motels as emergency housing and, for the first time, people in emergency housing will pay rent.
The rest of the funding would go toward providing 1000 additional transitional housing places before the end of the year and measures to prevent homelessness.
"I'll make sure the money reaches Tauranga," Powell said.
"We are very visual and vocal that we have a growing homeless population. We've been very vocal on the fact we have a housing crisis — we've got better at this.
"The problem we have always had, when communicating to central government, is that Tauranga is viewed as a very affluent city and that our problems pale in comparison with other places in New Zealand.
"I think it has been highlighted now that we are facing the same, if not bigger, challenges. We're New Zealand's fifth-largest city, we're New Zealand's fastest-growing city and we have the smallest land size."
He said the government funding would help as the city continued to grow.
Te Tuinga Whānau Trust representative Tommy Wilson believed the package would be a step toward "attitude for gratitude".
"If people are paying rent right at the start of the housing journey, they have an expectation to pay as they transition through to private rentals."
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Describing the housing journey, Wilson said, initially, homeless entered emergency housing, before moving to transitional housing, then state housing (Kāinga Ora — Homes and Communities) and finally private rentals or homeownership.
"What we would love to see some of the funding spent on here in Tauranga, and what we are working toward, is a purpose-built village that encompasses both emergency and transitional housing in the one place.
"It would also be a lot easier to wrap other services around these people as opposed to a raft of different workers travelling from house to house to house to address needs.
"My concern, as always, is whether the funding will reach the frontline as opposed to being swallowed up in administration."
Tracey Carlton from Street Kai praised the Government for its continued efforts to address homelessness but said her team's concern was how much of the $300m would end up in Tauranga.
"Because of the perceived wealth in the Tauranga area, we never get much government funding," Carlton said.
"Tauranga is seen as a wealthy, privileged area — and it is — but there are also huge pockets of homelessness and deprivation."
The People's Project service manager Simone Cuers said the funding was a move in the right direction.
"The community groups that have been working in Tauranga to tackle homelessness have been championing the cause to central government about a more holistic approach," Cuers said.
"While we work with people who are already homeless, the package focus on prevention and sustaining tenancies is the way to go. The longer people are homeless, the more complex the issues become."
Cuers said from research, if people leaving Oranga Tamariki care and those leaving mental health units had received early intervention, they may not have ended up in motels.
"We also welcome the continued investment in social housing because, to end homelessness, we need housing.
"When you look at other countries who have made a lot of progress in ending homelessness, they have two things in common. Firstly they invest seriously to increase their government housing stock year-on-year and secondly they invest in the community not-for-profit sector to enable them to contribute to the solution."
Tauranga-based Labour List MP Jan Tinetti could not confirm how much of the funding would be allocated to Tauranga.
"I do know there has been work done to work out the number of [homeless] people in Tauranga and how big of an issue we have so we are now making certain we put our case forward."
Tauranga MP and National Party leader Simon Bridges said the announcement was a "knee-jerk reaction".
"The reality is [Jacinda Ardern] doesn't have a serious housing plan or a plan to deal with poverty and the issues around both continue to worsen."
Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller said he had no confidence in the plan.
"The reason motels are used is because there are no houses available. The idea that more money will somehow magic up new houses by Christmas is more Ardern puffery.
"As we have seen in Pāpāmoa, transitional housing [because there are limited houses available], immediately becomes permanent housing."
The $300 million package
• $175m to deliver 1000 additional transitional housing places by the end of 2020
• $25.6m extra to the Sustaining Tenancies programme to help those at risk of losing their rental with practical budget advice, property maintenance, and mental health and addiction support
• $20m to work with Māori to prevent homelessness and expand housing supply delivered by Māori
• $17.5m to support young people leaving Oranga Tamariki care into accommodation with wraparound support services
• $16.3m to help acute mental health and addiction inpatients transition into the community with housing and wraparound support
• $13.5m to pilot a rapid re-housing approach for people receiving Emergency Housing Special Needs Grants
• $19.8m to expand intensive case manager or navigator support services for people in emergency housing longer than seven nights
• $8.7m for a new housing broker service to connect with local landlords and help more MSD clients secure private rental homes
• $740,000 to fund programmes to help people gain skills and confidence to secure and manage a private rental home
• $9.3m to support the wellbeing needs of children in emergency housing, such as paying for transport to school or early childhood education