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Relocation grant simply kicks can down the road

The response by state house tenants and social agencies to the Government’s rushed plan to shift families out of Auckland tells us what we already knew – this is no answer to the chronic housing shortage, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says.

“The Government is simply kicking this problem down the road.

“Several agencies working with homeless said this scheme – which comes into effect today – will have little impact on Auckland’s housing crisis.

“Emergency housing Monte Cecilia went as far as to say: ‘As a trust we wouldn't recommend it to families because we believe it is setting them up to fail’.

“This initiative has been so rushed that Ministry of Social Development officials still can’t say how many state houses are available outside of Auckland and where they are located.

“Auckland community and budgeting groups have reportedly had no approaches from families who want to take up the $5000 grant to move out of the city.

“This offer shows how out of touch the Government is on the pressures facing families. Moving away from family, friends and school communities is a massive ask for those already struggling financially.

“There is a 40,000-house shortfall in Auckland. Moving a few dozen families out of the city is simply not enough. This is knee-jerk policy at a time when the Government should be laying out a credible plan to deal with homelessness and the wider housing crisis.

“A proper plan would involve building more state houses rather than selling them off, a state-backed affordable house building programme and a ban on offshore property speculators.

“National has presided over a housing crisis that is driving house prices beyond the reach of middle New Zealand and is pushing rents beyond the reach of low-income families. It’s time for them to finally admit there’s a crisis and take action,” Andrew Little says.