Catholic emergency housing provider has a 279-family waitlist


A Catholic emergency housing provider says Government decisions are making it harder to find homes for families.

The number of homeless waiting for accommodation has ballooned during the COVID-19 lockdown, says Auckland Diocese’s Monte Cecilia Trust.

A spokesperson says the shortage is a result of the Government scrapping ‘redirect’ contracts. These contracts saw community housing providers arrange to lease houses from property owners, with the government and tenants sharing the cost.

At present the emergency housing provider says it has approved 279 families for housing. Those families, however, are on a seemingly never-ending queue as the Trust can’t secure any new homes to house them in.

“What makes it even more baffling is that 240 of the 279 approved families are Māori or Pacifica – New Zealand’s most vulnerable groups who together represent 65 percent of the NZ Housing Wait Register,” Monte Cecilia CEO Bernie Smith says.

“The New Zealand Housing Wait Register has grown to over 30,000 but for some reason, the Government is jettisoning a key tool at a time when the need for it has never been higher. At the same time, the Government announced $55million for Community Housing Providers to use as capital to build homes, but crucially not in Auckland City – only the regions.”

Smith says the Trust is expecting a surge in families needing homes as lockdown eases in Auckland.

The current lockdown in Auckland has hampered the Trust’s ability to move families into new housing. Smith says staff have found it difficult to see families struggling and not be able to move them into new homes.

“We’ve seen instances where entire families have been forced to shelter in single-room motel units or where more than 20 people are crammed into a three-bedroom house. That kind of thing has a real impact on families’ mental health as well as potentially their physical health since there’s no way to isolate if someone in their household catches COVID – there’s nowhere they can go to escape it.”

The Trust is calling on the public for help – including donations and volunteer time – as lockdown eases.


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