30 Jun 2017

Lions fans force beneficiaries out of Akl motels

6:35 pm on 30 June 2017

People are being squeezed out of emergency accommodation in Auckland, giving up their beds for Lions tour fans, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) says.

A sign advertising a local motel in Auckland

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

MSD deputy executive of housing Scott Gallacher said it had to reshuffle some people who were staying in motels or hotels as emergency accommodation because of the tour.

He said those affected would be moved to other accommodation and he was unaware of anyone being left with nowhere to go.

One provider, Strive Community Trust, has studio apartments in Papatoetoe and converted-office space in Manurewa for larger families.

They were a little busier than usual partly because of helping people moving from motels, said chief executive Sharon Wilson-Davis.

"Given the Lions Tour is in the country, a number of those motels were booked prior. Hence when they've come to take up that accommodation of course that leaves the [beneficiaries] with nowhere to go."

Ms Wilson-Davis said the referral system didn't allow the trust to see how many people came from motels or had been referred generally.

Mr Gallacher could not give exact figures but said only a "small number" of people had to be moved.

It had worked proactively with accommodation providers to make sure emergency housing demand was met during the tour, he said in a statement.

"We have been working closely with clients in emergency housing to ensure every person who needs temporary accommodation remains housed.

"We have arranged for them to stay in their current motel, move to a different motel, or find other accommodation such as transitional or social housing or private rentals.

"We are not aware of anyone who has been moved from emergency accommodation and left with nowhere to stay."

But Ms Wilson-Davis said realistically, long-term motels were not the answer.

"We've got a multitude of wrap-around services that we can provide to [beneficiaries]. 24-hour on-site staff, social workers that unravel some of the issues that they have."

Its focus was always about finding suitable long-term housing, Ms Wilson-Davis said.

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