Concern is growing among Rotorua moteliers about problems being caused by some homeless people, who are being put up in motels as an emergency housing solution.

A spokeswoman from the Rotorua Association of Motels, who did not want to be named, said some of its members had had issues with people placed with them by Work and Income.

At a committee meeting last week the association decided to contact the Ministry of Social Development about their concerns, she said.

The Rotorua Daily Post has spoken to several moteliers who said they had experienced problems such as theft, damage, overcrowding and abuse, but they did not wish to be named.


Kay Read, associate deputy chief executive of social housing at the Ministry, confirmed some Rotorua motel operators had complained about the behaviour of people who had received accommodation help from Work and Income.

"This is a concern for us as we don't want the behaviour of a few to mean that others in need, including families, are denied help."

Cactus Jacks Backpackers owner Paul O'Connor told the Rotorua Daily Post he had housed people through Work and Income in the past but found it caused too many problems so is no longer accepting them.

"I'm starting to learn from my mistakes, it's the minority that are ruining it for the majority."

Mr O'Connor said it was difficult to find a solution, but he did have one idea.

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"I thought if an organisation approached me and bought this place [to house the homeless], it would work, but who would be the organisation to do it?"

He said one of the main problems was those in emergency housing didn't mix with the other guests, because motels and backpackers were meant for travellers.

"We need a place specifically for the homeless."

He said, among other things, he'd had a TV, pillows and towels stolen from rooms, his guests and staff had been verbally abused and his property damaged.

Palm Court Rotorua manager Glenn Stafford said he refused to take referrals from Work and Income.

"Some of these people are genuinely in need of housing, but some are just causing problems. Since motels started taking them, things have got worse."

He said the increasing use of motels as emergency housing was changing the face of motels and what they should be used for.

"I see it as a stupid thing to be done. It's an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff and the cliff is very high."

However another Rotorua motelier, who did not want to be named, said she had not had any problems because she had a strict vetoing system.

"I have only taken two. I haven't had any issues, but I have made sure they were genuine. I've turned about 30 away.

"A lot of them are saying they don't like the place they live in or they don't get along with their family, that's not good enough for me."

Ms Read said Work and Income clients needing immediate help were not vetted before being placed.

"When people approach us needing help with housing we will work with them to look at all accommodation options, including motels.

"We sometimes deal with challenging behaviour from very vulnerable people. We do not vet them before addressing their immediate need for accommodation.

"If motels require a security deposit or bond before accepting someone we're able to provide the client with help to cover this," she said.

She said anyone experiencing criminal behaviour should contact the police.

Ms Read said she could not answer how much the Ministry had paid in the last year on damages to motels in Rotorua caused by clients. The Ministry also said it was unable to provide information on how many people were using emergency housing in Rotorua.