Policy change will leave NZ families with nowhere to go


When 1 October arrives, 215 families in Monte Cecilia transitional housing will have nowhere to go.

Until now, Monte Cecilia and similar places have used a “redirect contracts” initiative to house families. In this, they find private landlords willing to lease their house for at least a year, then create an agreement where the tenants pay 25 percent of their income as rent and the government covers the rest.

The change in policy will also negatively affect the more than 400 families currently on Monte Cecilia’s wait list.

Monte Cecilia CEO Bernie Smith (pictured) is concerned  that these families will have nowhere to go.

“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.”

The government will no longer offer these arrangements with Community Housing Providers (CHPs) from 1 October this year.

The shift in policy was announced in January as part of the government’s Public Housing Plan 2021-2024.

The Government is aiming for an increase in new build public housing and a progressive decrease in the proportion of private market homes leased for public housing. This is to help correct years of under-building of public housing.

But Smith insists without the subsidy, the families will have nowhere to go.  He explains Monte Cecilia will not be able to rehouse the 316 adults and 737 children it currently has in transitional housing. Half of the children are aged seven or under.

“Fifty-five percent of these families are Pasifika and 30 percent are Maori – two of New Zealand’s most at-risk populations.

“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 a press statement, the Monte Cecilia Trust points out that “by the end of 2021 [the change in policy] is expected to force over 200 families (over 1000 people, 700 of whom are children) currently in Monte Cecilia accommodation to wait years in temporary housing for the Kāinga Ora build programme to catch up”.

In the 2013 Census, there were 100,000 people in Counties Manakau living in overcrowded sub-standard housing. Today, 40 percent of Pacifika families in Auckland are living in multi-generational over crowded homes.

“New Zealand signed up to the UN declaration that Housing is a Human Right, so why can’t the government accept that as fact… We need a cross-party strategy to tackle this, and we need to be using every tool available…

“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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News category: New Zealand.

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