11 Apr 2017

Govt defends emergency housing plan: 'We do all we can'

2:01 pm on 11 April 2017

The government says it is under pressure to provide emergency housing for people, but it is doing all it can.

A sign advertising a local motel in Auckland

The government is planning to buy some motels to help easy the pressure on emergency housing. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The government has been feeling the heat over both housing affordability and homelessness.

The Ministry of Social Development is planning to buy a small number of motels around New Zealand as a temporary move to provide enough emergency housing.

But providers are warning the situation is only going to get worse, with a desperate shortage of cheap accommodation forcing more people than last year into sleeping in cars, parks and garages.

The government has insisted its response to emergency housing was unprecedented, and that it has spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to ensure people were not sleeping in the streets.

Social Housing Minister Amy Adams speaking to reporters on 11 April.

Social Housing Minister Amy Adams in parliament today. Photo: RNZ / Chris Bramwell

Social Housing Minister Amy Adams said about 8600 emergency housing places would soon be available, the bulk of those by this winter.

"But look, there is pressure on, and there's pressure [from] time to time with various events in different parts of the country, and we do all we can to manage them."

Like his predecessor John Key, Prime Minister Bill English did not concede there was a housing crisis in New Zealand.

"There's been pressure in the housing market, there's a strong response from the government, from the community groups who are fully participating ... everyone's going as fast as they can."

'Build more bloody houses' - Labour

Andrew Little speaking to reporters on Tuesday.

Andrew Little speaking at a news conference today. Photo: RNZ / Chris Bramwell

Labour leader Andrew Little said the government was in denial in the face of a "massive, chronic" shortage of housing.

A Labour government would reduce demand by cutting the number of work visas, and would also boost supply, he said.

"There's only one answer to the housing crisis - build more bloody houses."

Mr Little said houses would cost about $600,000 under Labour's affordable homes scheme and would be only for first home buyers, who would have to stay in them for five years.

However, the party had not decided how it would enforce those conditions.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs