Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett can't guarantee housing for homeless

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says funding for 3000 emergency beds a year were not additional beds.
FAIRFAX NZ

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says funding for 3000 emergency beds a year were not additional beds.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says there's no guarantee that homeless families would get a roof over their heads after contacting Work and Income.

Her comments come after Prime Minister John Key said Kiwis living out of cars and garages should contact the welfare agency where they would receive support.

Bennett said Work and Income would try their best to help, but it depended on what support was available.

"Look, I can't guarantee that," she said on RNZ.

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"What I would say though is that we would do everything that we could do help them and it would depend on the kind of circumstances that they're in, whats available and the assistance that we could give." 

Social housing was at 97 per cent occupancy, said the Minister.

"Those that are empty are P-infested so we're having to do a whole decontamination of them, we're having to do rebuilds, they're unsafe. So it's quite a big building programme."

Bennett also told RNZ tenancy reviews were being carried out to try to move people on who shouldn't be living there.

"We've had decades of people thinking it's a home for life, no matter what their circumstances are, even if they change." 

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Housing New Zealand were building 580 houses, and planning another 1300, she said.

There were about 500 people classified as homeless on the "wait list" for social housing.

The Government were working on a range of initiatives to help supply of social housing, particularly in Auckland.

EMERGENCY BEDS NOT ADDITIONAL

$41.1 million had been announced in the Budget for emergency housing over four years. The money would fund about 3000 emergency beds over a 12-month period, with about 800 beds available at any one time.

However, Bennett clarified the emergency beds were not additional - they were already existing beds.

"They are for cases like City Mission, Lifewise in Auckland, Salvation Army, organisations like that that provide emergency beds.

"They're paying for the ones that are there which allows them to free up funding to actually then create new beds."

Some beds would be new, but Bennett would not promise there would be an extra 3000 beds by the end of this year: "It's just not tenable."

 - Stuff

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