8 September 2011
Young mum’s plight highlights growing problem
The plight of a young mother in Gisborne who in desperation had to turn to a real estate agency for assistance finding accommodation has highlighted a growing problem which is only going to be made worse by the National government's changes to social housing says Labour Housing Spokesperson and Gisborne-based MP Moana Mackey.
"Bronwyn and her team at Bronwyn Kay Agency are to be congratulated for stepping in where the Government failed to look after this young mum and her four month old baby,” Moana Mackey said.
"The lack of emergency accommodation in Gisborne has been an issue for a long time, but stubbornly high unemployment and increased pressure on family budgets has exacerbated the problem in recent years.
“But Gisborne is not the only place in New Zealand in this situation.
"No single government agency has responsibility for emergency accommodation. What this means is that those who become homeless and need to be temporarily housed while they wait for a Work and Income or Housing New Zealand assessment often find themselves being bounced from one government agency to another. It's not uncommon for these government departments to put pressure on groups like Women's Refuge to bend their rules to take these people in for the night.”
“Recent changes to the way Housing New Zealand operates will only make the problem worse and see even more vulnerable people struggling to find housing,” Moana Mackey said
"In Gisborne more than 80% of our Housing New Zealand waiting list was category C and D applicants. In July this year the National Government booted these people off the waiting list for a state house. If National wins the November election current Housing New Zealand tenants who are category C and D will be evicted from their homes. Where does the government think these people are going to go? Their need doesn't disappear just because the Minister has decided he doesn't want to know about it.
"On top of this, the resulting empty state houses in Tairawhiti will presumably be sold off as 'surplus to requirements', dramatically reducing the pool of affordable rentals in Gisborne. As this case has shown, if anything Tairawhiti needs more affordable social housing, not less.
"New Zealand's ever worsening housing shortages are having an impact right through the housing sector. Unfortunately this National Government has sat on its hands as the crisis has worsened and it is our most vulnerable families who are paying the price.”