INDEPENDENT NEWS

Monte Cecilia - Families With Nowhere To Go

Published: Thu 9 Sep 2021 05:43 AM
When 1 October arrives, 215 families in Monte Cecilia transitional housing will have nowhere to go due to a government policy change
As many Aucklanders look hopefully toward being out of lockdown by October, 215 families in Monte Cecilia transitional houses may have nowhere to go as a government policy change takes effect.
Up until now, organisations like Monte Cecilia Housing Trust have used “redirect contracts” to house families by finding private landlords willing to lease their house for at least a year, then creating an agreement where the tenants pay 25% of their income as rent and the government covers the rest.
“Redirect contracts have been a powerful tool in organisations like Monte Cecilia’s toolkit for housing at-risk families,” Monte Cecilia CEO Bernie Smith says. “As we’ve grappled with exploding numbers of at-risk families over the past two years, redirect contracts have been hugely valuable. In the past year alone we’ve been able to help more than four and a half thousand children and their families, thanks in no small part to having that tool available.”
However, the government will no longer offer these arrangements with Community Housing Providers (CHPs) from 1 October this year.
“We currently have 316 adults and 737 children, half of whom are seven-years-old or younger, who are currently in transitional housing that we will not be able to offer a home to as a result of this. 55% of these families are Pasifika and 30% are Maori – two of New Zealand’s most at-risk populations,” Bernie says.
“It’s frustrating to see the government moving ahead with this decision when Covid makes it so important for families to be are able to shelter safely in their homes. But how do you safely lock down while living in a three-bedroom home with 22 people, sharing a single toilet, bathroom and small kitchen? To sleep at night, you have to find some vacant floor space in the single room you share with the rest of your family. Monte Cecilia Housing Trust often works to help families in South Auckland out of these very circumstances.”
In the 2013 Census, there were 100,000 people in Counties Manakau living in overcrowded sub-standard housing, today forty percent of Pacifika families in Auckland are living in multi-generational over crowded homes.
“I shake my head when I hear politicking about whether it’s appropriate to say New Zealand is experiencing ‘Housing pressure’ or a ‘Housing crisis’. Housing is a Human Right, and the situation we are grappling with shows us why this is so,” Bernie says.
“New Zealand signed up to the UN declaration that Housing is a Human Right, so why can’t the government accept that as fact, rather than arguing over the word ‘crisis’ like National argued about the word ‘pressure’. We need a cross-party strategy to tackle this, and we need to be using every tool available, not throwing them out of the toolbox.”
“This is an urgent problem. It’s urgent in its severity, it’s urgent in its impact on our ability to fight Covid and it’s urgent ethically.”

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