The Citizens Advice Bureau welcomes the announcement on 9 May of increased government funding for emergency housing, said Chief Executive Kerry Dalton.
“Last year, when we issued our Spotlight on clients in need of emergency accommodation, we called on the government to reinstate the safety net for people who have no place to call home and often don’t have a roof over their head for the night. This initiative is a definite step in the right direction.”
“Our report showed that there is a need for emergency housing assistance across the country, so we’re pleased to see that the funding will assist people nationwide, and that when there are no government-funded beds available people will be able to apply for a non-recoverable grant to cover the cost of putting a roof over their head. However we are worried that seven days of funding will not be enough for people to get back on their feet.”
The Citizens Advice Bureau will work with clients to facilitate access to the new entitlements once these are in place. “Our experience shows that it’s crucial that the process for accessing this support from the Ministry of Social Development is straightforward and efficient, so that people in desperate situations can get out of them quickly”, says Ms Dalton.
“We hope that this funding increase signals the government’s determination to make sure that no-one in New Zealand has to live in a car, a garage or on the street.” says Ms Dalton. “We’re positive about these emergency measures but we think government needs to follow up with a long term plan to ‘join the dots’ between emergency housing, social housing and affordable rental housing”, says Ms Dalton. “If this doesn’t happen, we will continue to see people caught in a cycle of homelessness, often moving back and forth between emergency accommodation and other more dire living situations.”
“Once the new emergency housing funding and new Special Needs Grant is implemented later this year, the CAB will monitor its data to gauge the effect of these changes. We hope to see people getting immediate assistance when they find themselves without a roof over their head or in extremely inadequate shelter.”