Government buys motel for homeless

Sale not unconditional yet but complex to be used to provide emergency housing.

Sale not unconditional yet but complex to be used to provide emergency housing.

The Housing Corporation has bought Eastland Motor Lodge in Gladstone Road for more than $2.5 million. It will be a new place for people who have nowhere else to go. A seven-day emergency housing grant is available to those who would otherwise sleep rough on the streets or in cars. They can now go here, where an on-site manager will provide wraparound services to help them back on their feet. Picture by Paul Rickard

THE Government has bought a Gisborne motel complex to provide emergency housing for Gisborne.

Housing New Zealand Corporation (HNZC) paid more than $2.5 million for the former Eastland Motor Lodge on Gladstone Road.

The sale has not gone unconditional yet but the complex will be used to provide emergency housing for people who would otherwise be sleeping rough on the streets or in their cars.

There will be an on-site manager and wraparound services provided to help people and their families get back on their feet again.

Figures released by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) show more than half-a-million dollars was paid out over three months by Work and Income (WINZ) for an emergency housing grant to people in Gisborne and the East Coast.

It was part of the seven-day Emergency Housing Special Needs Grants and does not have to be paid back.

Gisborne and East Coast figures were the third-highest in the country.

For the quarter ended December 2016, WINZ paid out $571,288 under this new grant, introduced in July 2016, and it went to 762 families here.

Auckland at top of list

Auckland topped the list with more than $4 million in grants, given to 3969 families, and Hamilton was second with 851 families using $885,535.

Motels are being used all over the country as emergency accommodation when people are given these grants.

In response, HNZC have started to buy motels to help ease New Zealand’s emergencey housing crisis. HNZC, on behalf of MSD, is investigating buying a motel in Blenheim.

Gisborne advocacy agencies have described the homelessness and emergency housing needs in Gisborne as at “crisis point”.

There are people sleeping rough under bridges and families spending nights in their cars.

Age Concern manager Frances Toroa said the millions spent on short-term housing solutions in the region was like a “band-aid”.

“It is good that there will be some sort of release, and a place for people to go, but it is a poor reflection of housing in this region.

“I think HNZC should be addressing this long-term. At the end of the day it would have been better if it was money used to build houses, or to release those already in stock under HCNZ.

“This is a short-term thing. I just hope in the long term they will start building social housing.

“Private rentals are out of the league of those on a benefit or low income.”

Eastland Motor Lodge is set on 2.5 acres of gardens, and features a solar-heated saltwater swimming pool and barbecue facilities. Each unit has a full kitchen with a microwave, refrigerator, heat pumps and television.

MSD commits to providing temporary accommodation

Scott Gallacher, deputy chief executive, Housing, Ministry of Social Development said the MSD was committed to providing temporary accommodation to New Zealanders so those in real need have a warm, safe place to stay.

The government set aside around $350 million last year to secure 2,150 transitional housing places around the country, the first time such an investment has ever been made.

"We are exploring a range of transitional housing options in Gisborne," he said. "At this stage we are unable to comment on the specific details. We expect to be in a position to provide detail about options in the near future.

"The Ministry is committed to engaging with local communities as we seek to secure additional transitional housing supply. We look forward to working with communities in Gisborne and around the country as we progress these options."

He said more generally, every transitional housing place will be managed by specialist emergency housing providers who are skilled in providing a range of social and tenancy-related support.

"People will be provided with a warm, dry place to stay for an average of 12 weeks. While in transitional housing people will be helped to find longer term accommodation, and can receive the tailored support they require, including budgeting advice, housing and cooking skills or parenting education.

"Once they move into more sustainable accommodation, people can continue to receive support for up to a further 12 weeks."

THE Government has bought a Gisborne motel complex to provide emergency housing for Gisborne.

Housing New Zealand Corporation (HNZC) paid more than $2.5 million for the former Eastland Motor Lodge on Gladstone Road.

The sale has not gone unconditional yet but the complex will be used to provide emergency housing for people who would otherwise be sleeping rough on the streets or in their cars.

There will be an on-site manager and wraparound services provided to help people and their families get back on their feet again.

Figures released by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) show more than half-a-million dollars was paid out over three months by Work and Income (WINZ) for an emergency housing grant to people in Gisborne and the East Coast.

It was part of the seven-day Emergency Housing Special Needs Grants and does not have to be paid back.

Gisborne and East Coast figures were the third-highest in the country.

For the quarter ended December 2016, WINZ paid out $571,288 under this new grant, introduced in July 2016, and it went to 762 families here.

Auckland at top of list

Auckland topped the list with more than $4 million in grants, given to 3969 families, and Hamilton was second with 851 families using $885,535.

Motels are being used all over the country as emergency accommodation when people are given these grants.

In response, HNZC have started to buy motels to help ease New Zealand’s emergencey housing crisis. HNZC, on behalf of MSD, is investigating buying a motel in Blenheim.

Gisborne advocacy agencies have described the homelessness and emergency housing needs in Gisborne as at “crisis point”.

There are people sleeping rough under bridges and families spending nights in their cars.

Age Concern manager Frances Toroa said the millions spent on short-term housing solutions in the region was like a “band-aid”.

“It is good that there will be some sort of release, and a place for people to go, but it is a poor reflection of housing in this region.

“I think HNZC should be addressing this long-term. At the end of the day it would have been better if it was money used to build houses, or to release those already in stock under HCNZ.

“This is a short-term thing. I just hope in the long term they will start building social housing.

“Private rentals are out of the league of those on a benefit or low income.”

Eastland Motor Lodge is set on 2.5 acres of gardens, and features a solar-heated saltwater swimming pool and barbecue facilities. Each unit has a full kitchen with a microwave, refrigerator, heat pumps and television.

MSD commits to providing temporary accommodation

Scott Gallacher, deputy chief executive, Housing, Ministry of Social Development said the MSD was committed to providing temporary accommodation to New Zealanders so those in real need have a warm, safe place to stay.

The government set aside around $350 million last year to secure 2,150 transitional housing places around the country, the first time such an investment has ever been made.

"We are exploring a range of transitional housing options in Gisborne," he said. "At this stage we are unable to comment on the specific details. We expect to be in a position to provide detail about options in the near future.

"The Ministry is committed to engaging with local communities as we seek to secure additional transitional housing supply. We look forward to working with communities in Gisborne and around the country as we progress these options."

He said more generally, every transitional housing place will be managed by specialist emergency housing providers who are skilled in providing a range of social and tenancy-related support.

"People will be provided with a warm, dry place to stay for an average of 12 weeks. While in transitional housing people will be helped to find longer term accommodation, and can receive the tailored support they require, including budgeting advice, housing and cooking skills or parenting education.

"Once they move into more sustainable accommodation, people can continue to receive support for up to a further 12 weeks."

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Mary-Ann de Kort - 2 years ago
I am so pleased that our government wants to provide temporary accommodation for our homeless, but how is this necessary? The $2.5 million price tag is huge for a motel. Is there actually a more permanent solution or are we just going to put a bandaid on a very serious problem?
I do wonder how we got to the point where our housing stock isn't keeping up with demand.
Many HCNZ houses have been sold and many more have been allowed to stay empty for long periods of time, with the families who used to live in these houses displaced and little opportunity for others to be housed.
Private owners have purchased state houses and now either live in them or ask for much more rent than was previously expected for the same houses. Others have been moved off the sections with more houses built on the land and onsold at prices which aren't affordable.
If these HCNZ houses had not been sold, I think it's likely that private owners would have built more houses to live in or rent to increase the overall housing stock to keep up with demand.
HCNZ owned assets and used to provide a dividend to our government, but now we as taxpayers pay extraordinarily large amounts for motels to provide temporary accommodation.
We have gone from housing being fairly self-sufficient and little drain on the public purse to housing costing the taxpayers millions for emergency accommodation. We also subsidise private landlords who charge too much for rent.
We have also imported many people who need to be housed but haven't provided the framework or trade training to facilitate this.
All in all it seems to me that it was senseless ideology to sell HCNZ houses and those which have been sold will continue to cost future generations to replace.
We need a better plan for our brighter future - like building many, many more houses and training those who will be able to build them.