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Govt drops ball on Masters Games housing squeeze

Families currently living in emergency accommodation face being forced out onto the street as motel accommodation in Auckland is filled up by contestants and visitors of the World Masters Games in coming weeks, says Labours social development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.

“The World Masters Games are very welcome, bringing 25,000 registered contestants with 10,000 travelling supporters to Auckland from April 21-30, but the Government has dropped the ball by failing to plan for the significant impact on families currently receiving emergency accommodation.

“Two weeks ago I called 16 motels currently used as MSD emergency housing providers. Nine were already fully booked and seven were near capacity during the World Masters Games.

“The huge numbers of people expected to arrive in Auckland will further strain the emergency housing situation and potentially leave hundreds of families out in the cold. Many families are being asked to find their own accommodation during the Masters Games, despite Work and Income being their last port of call when there is no other option.

“The Government has had plenty of time to act. Concerns about accommodation for participants were raised over a year ago, with a short-term campervan park being set up at the Ellerslie Racecourse to provide some relief.

“An ATEED document from 2012 states that ‘accommodation infrastructure capable of meeting the needs of a minimum of 23,000 participants and supporters’ would need to be provided. Recent reports show that this estimate is a very bare minimum.

“In recent months MSD has already been stretched beyond capacity for providing emergency housing to those in need. In February this year, 53 elderly tourists had to stay at Te Puea Marae as there was no beds available anywhere else in Auckland after their flight was cancelled.

“In Hamilton earlier this year, families staying in motels as emergency accommodation were forced on to the street when tourists came into town for the international cricket match.

“We should all be excited about the Masters Games. Instead, for many families their experience will be the cold reality of the housing crisis because of the Government’s failure to adequately plan for an event that’s been in the works since at least 2012,” says Carmel Sepuloni.