Demand at all-time high, despite gov't efforts - City Mission

By Will Trafford

The need for emergency and transitional housing in Pōneke has hit at an all-time high, according to the head of its city mission.

Murray Edridge, says despite moves by government to get more people into emergency and permanent housing, the strain on the group’s services is now critical.

"We're very full in our services, and we've got a cohort of people that are harder off than they've ever been." Edridge said.

National has slammed the government’s most recent six-month progress report on its strategy to end homelessness, as showcasing ‘money spent and the number of programmes started – not the actual outcomes.’

“Unfortunately for this Government, starting programmes and throwing money at them is not the same as improving outcomes for New Zealanders. Housing Spokesperson Chris Bishop said.

“It is ridiculous that the Government claims to have ‘met its targets’ on homelessness, when it has actually increased in the last five years, and their policies have made it worse.

Associate Housing Minister Marama Davidson, says the latest data shows milestones are being achieved.

Davidson said the government had found 2200 locations where tenants facing eviction due to the completion of tenancy could live permanently.

$6 million has been allocated to regional projects with a particular emphasis on Māori, Pasifika, and rangatahi who may be homeless, or at risk of becoming so.

Bishop slammed the new reporting standards.

“The Government used to report on measures of homelessness. For example, the 18 month review of the Homelessness Action Plan until August 2021 showed that eight of the 11 measures of homelessness had gotten worse since 2019.” Bishop said.

“The last two progress reports, including the most recent one reported today, have excluded these measures – presumably because they would continue to show the worsening state of homelessness in this country.”

Wellington City Missioner Murray Edridge at the April 2021 launch of the mission's social supermarket in Newtown. Photo / Rosa Woods, Stuff

Wellington City Missioner Murray Edridge at the April 2021 launch of the mission's social supermarket in Newtown. Photo / Rosa Woods, Stuff

Bishop says on virtually every metric, housing has gotten worse. 

“Rents are up $140 per week, thousands of households live in emergency housing motels, including nearly 4000 children, and the state house waitlist has increased by over 20,000 applicants since Labour came to office.” He said.

“The Government now spends over $1 million per week on emergency housing and there has been a quadrupling in the number of families living in cars and tents since 2017… The Government has overseen a housing disaster and their Homelessness Action Plan has been a failure.”

Edridge told RNZ he accepts the government's efforts, but said the cost of living crisis meant more whānau than ever were needing the mission’s support.

"Our staff are stretched, it's not a disaster yet but we're doing the best we can in what are really difficult circumstances."

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