Monday, June 24, 2024

Rotorua marks third step in Emergency Housing plan

A critical turning point in the Government’s actions to better support people living in emergency housing motels in Rotorua has been reached, says Housing Minister Megan Woods, who visited its recently completed housing hub this week.

“Te Pokapū, a community-led housing hub in central Rotorua, is a single access point connecting people with the right support services for them,” says Dr Woods.

“It is the result of many months of careful planning, and could not have been achieved without a strong partnership between Te Taumata, social service providers, MSD, and Lakes DHB.

“This one-stop shop provides crucial support for people in Government-contracted motels, including services to help whānau settle into their accommodation, social worker support, Ready-to Rent programmes, budgeting training, numeracy and literacy training, and after-school and holiday programmes for children.

“This hub is a key part of the moves we made last year to ensure there is wrap-around support for whanau and tamariki living in motels.”

In May last year a taskforce of government agencies, iwi and council came together to develop a new three pronged model specifically designed for Rotorua, as part of a suite of changes to emergency housing in the city, and in response to an immediate need. 

This was done by:

  • Government directly contracting motels for emergency accommodation and ending the practice of mixed use motels
  • Grouping families and tamariki in suitable motels separate from other cohorts
  • Providing wrap around social support services for people in emergency accommodation

“This new approach was about implementing short-term solutions, with the aim of building long term self-sufficiency, while continuing our hard work to deliver more permanent housing, as we keep a focus on good motel management for the benefit of tenants and the wider community,” Minister Woods said.

Te Taumata O Ngāti Whakaue leads and coordinates a collective of social service providers to help whānau into stable housing, supported by the Ministry of Social Development, taking a holistic kaupapa Māori approach. This is centred on Te Pou Whānau (family), Te Pou Wairua (spirituality), Te Pou Hinengaro (mental health), Te Pou Tinana (physical) and Te Pou Ahurea (culture).

“This is a great example of iwi, housing providers, local and central government working in partnership. We know we get better results by working together with people in the community who know their people best. Yes, there is more to do, but I’m hopeful that what we are learning here will help raise the quality of service across the country,” the Minister said.

She said COVID-19 had added to the challenges. In Rotorua, as with other parts of the country, the numbers of individuals and whānau receiving Emergency Housing – Special Needs Grants (EHSNGs) increased after the August 2021 lockdown.

“We recognise there is still some frustration in Rotorua as we continue with our plan to address homelessness while working at pace to increase supply, but we are starting to see green shoots.”

“For the last decade consent levels in Rotorua have been one of the lowest in the country compared to population. However, consenting numbers have been ramping up, in the year to January 2022, 394 building consents were issued in the Rotorua District, which is more than were issued in the two previous years,” the Minister said.

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