Megan Woods: Government makes changes to Rotorua emergency housing

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KEY POINTS:
Government to directly contract motels for emergency accommodation
Wrap around social support services for those in emergency accommodation to be provided
Grouping of cohorts like families and tamariki in particular motels separate from other groups
One-stop Housing Hub for access to services and support to be established
The Government has announced changes to emergency housing provision in Rotorua.
The Government will directly contract motels in Rotorua to deliver the service, it easier for wrap-around support to be delivered to whānau and tamariki living in motels.
A task force from central government has 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.
Housing Minister Megan Woods and Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni said the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was taking over responsibility for contracting motels, and would end the mixed use of motels.
"These moves will ensure whānau and tamariki are placed in accommodation with facilities better suited to their needs with support to keep them safe and well, and provide a pathway to more permanent housing," Woods said.
"These actions also help bring certainty to the Rotorua accommodation sector by having motels used exclusively for emergency housing and help ensure there are separate suitable accommodation facilities for domestic and international visitors.
Central government agencies had worked with the council, iwi and NGOs to find solutions, she said.
"We do not see motels as a long-term answer for housing, but we need to deal with the immediate crisis we inherited while we build the medium- to long-term solutions by increasing housing supply," Woods said.
HUD and Kāinga Ora are assessing which of the motels being used for emergency housing in Rotorua are suitable for whānau and tamariki.
HUD is talking with motels this week about contracts for emergency housing.
Rotorua Lakes District Council has agreed to temporarily allow longer-term stays for motels used for emergency housing.
It will take several weeks to assess and engage all motels.
The Ministry of Social Development and HUD are working with Te Arawa and service providers to establish a Housing Hub, including contracting for wrap-around support services for whānau and tamariki in motels.
The Hub will be up and running in the coming months.
"Once established the Housing Hub will be community-led, and will provide a place where people needing emergency housing can also have their holistic care needs assessed and addressed, with placements triaged into appropriate accommodation," Sepuloni said.
"Emergency housing is meant to be a temporary solution for people who are unable to find accommodation but because of the housing shortage we inherited, some people are staying in motels longer.
"We are committed to supporting them and helping them find a long-term, sustainable solution."
Kāinga Ora is working to provide about 190 more houses in Rotorua by 2024 under the public housing plan.
Kāinga Ora is also working harder in Rotorua to identify opportunities for building new housing to provide more permanent homes.
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said the announcements by Woods and Sepuloni were "a great start".
"I called for the Government to focus its attention on Rotorua and to have a presence here because of the untenable situation of mothers and children living in motels," she said.
"That was the burning platform to get a priority focus for our district. These first steps are the building blocks to addressing the long-term housing pipeline challenges that we need to solve here in Rotorua and I will continue to strongly advocate and work with the Government to gain those solutions for our community."
Chadwick said she was in contact with Woods last night and was assured they would continue to work on Rotorua solutions together.
"The work we are doing...

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