100 Aucklanders take up Government offer to relocate with $5000 grant

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says she is carrying out a stocktake of the scheme to relocate homeless ...

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says she is carrying out a stocktake of the scheme to relocate homeless Aucklanders and those in state houses.

A government scheme to pay Aucklanders up to $5000 to relocate elsewhere in New Zealand could be expanded, after 100 families and individuals took up the offer.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says she will complete a review of the grants by the end of the year, before deciding whether to approach her Cabinet colleagues for more funding.

Bennett announced the scheme in May for Aucklanders who were homeless or in state houses, saying it would "free up" social housing for those who had to stay in the city because of their work or children.

Two-thirds of the 150 places have now been taken up, with just over $400,000 of the $750,000 budget spent on grants.

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Speaking after the opening of Salvation Army housing in Wellington, Bennett said she was happy with the number of people who had been relocated through the scheme, which was "never going to suit everybody".

"I remembered when I was a young solo mum and I wanted to get out of the town I was living in, but I just couldn't afford to move and have a fresh start and go again.

"I always thought people would take it up, it just needed time to bed itself in."

Agencies involved in the relocation process had given positive feedback, along with those who had left the city.

"Certainly from what I've seen, for people it's been a relief - they had felt kind of stuck in Auckland and so getting out has been a huge relief for them."

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Of the 100 families or people who had moved, 45 had gone into private rentals, with the rest in social housing.

There was a mixture of ages "from young singles through to seniors", while 15 had been in emergency or short-term housing before their move.

Bennett said she would do "a bit of a stocktake" of the grants by the end of the year to determine whether they should be expanded if all 150 places were filled.

When she announced the scheme, Bennett it was aimed at those who had the freedom to move elsewhere.

"For some people, and I by no means think everyone, there will be situations where [they are] actually moving to a town where there's really good support services, where it's more affordable, and some of them might be moving back to where their family are."

 - Stuff

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