Manawatu Standard

Families on waiting list for more than 200 days

- Henry Cooke

‘‘A recipe for intergener­ational harm.’’ Nicola Willis

Nat housing spokeswoma­n

The public housing waiting list hit a record high of 24,010 in April, about three times what it was three years ago.

Newly released figures also show that while the list of eligible households grow, the time it takes to get them into a suitable state or community house has too.

The median time to find a house in April rose to 202 days, meaning more than half of those who got into a home had been waiting more than 28 weeks.

The Government’s building programme has not been able to keep up surging demand. A total of 482 families and individual­s were moved into housing in April, but they were more than replaced by 1443 new entrants to the list.

The April update was not all bad news, however, as the number of grants for the homeless to stay in motels has continued a slow decline, dropping to just under 5000 grants in April – compared with 6283 in May 2020.

The number of low-income people receiving the accommodat­ion supplement to top up their rent has also dropped to 357,000, down from a peak of 378,000 near the end of 2020.

National’s housing spokeswoma­n, Nicola Willis, said the situation was ‘‘completely out of control’’. ‘‘It’s an unfolding disaster for those families and our communitie­s. It’s not enough for the Government to say it’s building more state homes. It must do more to stop the explosion of people being pushed into housing deprivatio­n to begin with.

‘‘I am deeply concerned about the sharp increase in the time to house those on the state house waiting list. Many of these families are being forced to live in motels and camping grounds. This is a recipe for inter-generation­al harm.’’

Willis said the Government should withdraw its plan to stop planned tax changes for landlords, which she argues will contribute to higher rents.

When the previous round of figures came out, Public Housing Minister Poto Williams said the Government was still playing ‘‘catch-up’’ after National reduced the net number of state houses.

She said a ‘‘culture change’’ at the Ministry of Social Developmen­t meant more people were coming forward. ‘‘Our Government has made changes to ensure the register reflects the true state of housing need in New Zealand, including through ensuring those who need help get it, particular­ly by changing the culture at MSD.’’

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