Housing minister shakes up Rotorua's emergency housing

By Te Ao - Māori News

Source RNZ

In a new emergency housing shake-up in Rotorua, the government will directly contract motels in Rotorua for emergency housing because of reports of crime and unsafe living conditions, as reported by RNZ

Housing Minister Megan Woods and Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said the move would make it easier to deliver "wrap-around support services" to families and whānau living in motels.

Woods said a government task force had been working with the Rotorua Lakes District Council and Te Arawa iwi "to provide better support and outcomes for people living in emergency housing motels and the community".

**The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development will take over responsibility for contracting motels used for emergency housing, and ending the practice of "mixed-use" motels.

"These moves will ensure whānau and tamariki are placed in accommodation with facilities more suited to their needs, with support to keep them safe and well and provide a pathway to more permanent housing," Woods said.

'A good start'

"These actions also help bring certainty to the Rotorua accommodation sector by having motels used exclusively for emergency housing, and help ensure there are suitable accommodation facilities for domestic and international visitors."

The housing ministry was in talks with suitable motels for contracts for emergency housing, Woods said.

**Rotorua Lakes District Council has also agreed to facilitate a temporary change in consenting to permit longer-term stays for motels assessed as suitable for emergency housing; that would take "several weeks to assess and engage all motels".

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick said government intervention was a good start until more housing could be built in Rotorua.

"That doesn't happen overnight and we've got to manage these numbers right now. Tourism operators will be saying 'thank goodness, we're not going to have motels that are contracted for social housing placement as well as for our visitor population, that will stop'."

Long-term plan needed

National Party MP for Rotorua Todd McClay told  RNZ's Morning Report he was pleased there was help on the way for "mums and kids" and that wrap-around support would be offered. But what he heard was a "whole lot of meetings."

"What the announcement yesterday doesn't do is show an actual plan to get people out of motels," he says.

"Ultimately, the solution is not dumping people in hotels long-term. They don't actually want to be there... what was disappointing about the announcement yesterday was there was nothing about housing."