Labour calls for state of emergency on homelessness

Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford is calling on the Government to declare a state of emergency over the nation’s homelessness crisis.

“There are 42,000 people homeless and living in severe housing stress while the National Government behaves like a possum in the headlights. It is time to declare a state of emergency and treat this crisis with the urgency it deserves.

“When the Government declares a state of emergency in times of natural disaster it galvanises all the necessary resources so it can act quickly and decisively. That is precisely what needs to happen to put a decent roof over the heads of thousands of homeless Kiwi families.

“Social agencies speaking to the cross-party Homelessness Inquiry tell us homelessness has reached crisis levels. A local midwife in Tauranga – where tomorrow’s hearing will be held – says she’s had to deliver babies at night using only the torch from her cell phone.

“The latest independent research from Otago University estimates there are 42,000 homeless Kiwis, most of them are families with children, and most either in paid work or study.

“The Government should urgently:

1. Triple the $10 million a year it is spending on a nationwide programme of supported emergency housing.
2. Immediately put in place emergency measures in Auckland where half the country’s homeless population are located. The Government needs to stop dithering about warehouses, cruise ships and pod houses, and make a decision. That’s what Paula Bennett is paid the big money to do.
3. Stop the sale of state houses and embark on a massive building programme instead.

“While the Government argues over Statistics NZ’s official definition of homelessness, and tries to argue that people living in sheds and garages are not homeless, thousands of Kiwi families are living in squalid dangerous conditions that are a stain on our nation.

“It is time the Government stopped the denial and word games, and took action to fix this crisis,” Phil Twyford.