Launched by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday, the Aotearoa New Zealand Homelessness Action Plan aims to reduce and prevent homelessness in order to help over 10,000 people.
As part of the plan, 1,000 new transitional housing places will be delivered by the end of year to reduce the demand for emergency motel accommodation. Those places are on top of the 1,300 places already created.
To ensure parity with other tenants in social housing, a 25% of income payment will also be introduced for people staying in motels for longer than seven days.
Associate Housing Minister Kris Faafoi says the plan aims to both prevent people becoming homeless in the first place and reduce the reliance on motels for emergency accommodation by increasing the supply of transitional housing.
“Over $70 million in this package is dedicated to programmes that are proven to work in helping vulnerable New Zealander’s to stay in their homes and not end up on the streets.”
Of this $25.6 million will go to the Sustaining Tenancies programme which helps those at risk of losing their rental with practical support - including budget advice, property maintenance, and mental health and addiction support - so they can remain in their tenancy.
But, in order to move people from motels into transitional housing and support them to stay in rental housing, the government urgently needs more housing stock.
And while the government is building, and also buying, properties for social housing and expects to have provided about 6400 extra homes by June 2022, it will also need to rent privately held properties.
Government agencies, like Kainga Ora (formerly Housing NZ), and community housing providers (CHPs) are already reaching out to private rental property owners.
However, as part of the new plan, $8.67 million has been allotted to allow the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to introduce housing broker roles.
The housing brokers will build connections with private landlords and property managers, promote MSD clients as potential tenants, and match people with housing opportunities in the private rental market.
MSD clients who are in emergency housing or on the public housing register who are likely to be able to sustain a private market tenancy, with the right support, will be targeted by the service.
To this end, MSD will get $740,000 extra funding for programmes to help people gain the skills, knowledge and credibility they need to gain a home in the private rental market.
The plan has been welcomed by community housing providers across the board, with Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA) chief executive Scott Figenshow saying it will make a significant difference in many people’s lives.
Private landlords who are interested in providing rental properties for social housing are being encouraged to make contact with the Ministry of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), Kainga Ora or a local community housing provider.
A list of community housing providers is available from the Community Housing Regulatory Authority here, while the CHA have a list of their members here.