Catholic transitional housing provider stops taking new referrals

For the first time in its 39-years history, Monte Cecilia Housing Trust has had to stop taking new referrals from families.

Other transitional housing providers are impacted as well says Monte Cecilia Trust chief executive Bernie Smith.

Smith says there are cheaper ways than private rentals to accommodate people who are homeless, and taxpayers should feel like their money is been wasted.

The Auckland Catholic Diocese’s Trust delivers a wide range of housing-related services addressing immediate housing and associated needs, raising public awareness and influencing government policy on housing justice issues.

It also provides a range of wrap-around services aimed at building families’ independence by developing the skills they need, however, the Ministry of Social Development stopped using Monte Cecilia after concerns about the impact their service was having on the private market.

The Government directed 37 million dollars to Auckland private landlords and property managers between November 2017 and June 2020.

“They never came to us or to other transitional housing providers that could’ have provided homes at half or a third of the cost,” Smith says.

Smith says Monte Cecilia made a complaint about it.

The Auditor-General has criticised the Social Development Ministry for renting private properties for emergency housing.

Last (financial) year saw 1996 families come to Monte Cecilia for assistance.

“These families had 4586 children, the country’s future generation among them,” says Smith.

“Where children experience or face homelessness and poverty, that impacts on their emotional and spiritual wellbeing”, he says.

“It’s so easy to blame homeless families for their circumstances rather than decades of Government inaction, market-driven policies, greedy landlords getting greedier, the rich getting richer, rising food, heating and fuel costs while these families don’t even have a living household income despite being employed”.

Smith questions how New Zealand has reached this point where poverty and homelessness are growing at such an alarming rate.

Monte Cecilia and other transitional housing providers had a housing supply line that created warm, dry, secure and sustainable longer-term housing options for families that moved them out of temporary transitional housing.

Smith is asking people to advocate with local and central government officials, pray and donate to support Monte Cecilia in supporting families.

“We continue to run programmes and all the things we do well – we just need affordable and sustainable homes to lease” says Smith.

​The Salvation Army’s State of the Nation 2022 report says although the housing supply is increasing in total, much of it is unaffordable for the most vulnerable in the community.

Housing affordability in New Zealand has deteriorated to the worst level on record, with the average property worth 8.8 times the average income at the end of last year according to CoreLogic’s latest housing affordability report.

The report says the generally accepted definition of “affordable” is house prices of three times the median income.



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