Government announces $54 million to help keep people off the streets

Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sunday, 18 August 2019, 3:23PM
Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni says mental health, addictions and criminal histories are some of the issues that create barriers to people finding long-term homes. (Photo / File)

The Government is putting $54 million into support schemes aimed at preventing people from becoming homeless.

Associate Housing Minister Kris Faafoi and Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni on Sunday announced new funding for a series of programmes aimed at keeping those at high risk of losing housing off the streets.

About $31 million will be spent over four years on 67 intensive case managers at the Ministry of Social Development, whose job it will be to help families with children and mental health needs currently living in emergency motel accommodation.

"MSD has identified a distinct group of people that face a range of complex issues that are a barrier to finding and keeping a home of their own, such as mental health and addictions, criminal history, or family violence," Sepuloni said.

Another $6.6 million over two years will go towards expanding the Government's Sustaining Tenancies programme.

The scheme gives practical budget advice, property maintenance and mental health support to people in state housing, in three cities - Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Faafoi said the new money would mean the programme could expand into five new regions, and into the private housing market.

Welfare payments for emergency housing across New Zealand skyrocketed almost 200 per cent in 2018.

In the first three months of this year, the Government paid out $23 million for emergency motel accommodation.

The grants were introduced in 2016 to help those who needed temporary housing.

The Opposition has blamed growing demand for emergency housing grants on an increasing cost of living, but Sepuloni has attributed the situation to the housing crisis.

The Government says the new funding is the first phase and a stopgap as part of a larger plan aimed at tackling homelessness.

The money is coming out of a contingency fund set aside in the May Budget for tackling homelessness and comes on top of $197 million set aside for boosting a nationwide scheme aimed at getting people into housing.

About 806 homes had been filled by that programme by June.


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