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Homeless housing advocate gives government thumbs up but wants more

Maioha Panapa

‘We’ve got to get over the stone throwing from this government to that government’

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Mangere’s Te Puea Marae, known for its longstanding support for homeless whānau, is doing its bit to house people in its back yard.

And Te Puea Marae kaitiaki matua Hurimoana Dennis says he likes the coalition government plan, newly unveiled, to prioritise families with children in emergency accommodation.

But he emphasises the need for increased collaboration to effectively address the housing crisis.

And he wants the blame game to stop.”

‘We’ve got to get over the stone throwing from this government to that government.”

Housing Minister Chris Bishop announced the government’s first steps in ending the emergency housing crisis but says the system is a “disgrace” that is not its fault alone.

“We cannot be held responsible for the debacle of the past six years,

“And in the past six years the number of families living in motels went from a handful, up to 4500 and now down to 3000.”

But Dennis says all the governments were accountable and responsible for the housing crisis, not just one “because this went way back to Rogernomics and beyond”.

Te Puea Marae is taking proactive measures by building 11 transitional housing units to accommodate homeless whānau.

“Just behind here, we’ve started to build 11 homes.”

In doing so, the marae remains dedicated to the principles of its founder, Te Puea Herangi, who famously advocated for “great work for the betterment of the people”.

Meanwhile Bishop says familes with dependent children who have been in emergency housing in motels for over 12 weeks will become the top priority for social housing.

The government will also work to strengthen emergency housing verification processes, review eligibility settings, and “clarify” an applicant’s responsibilities while in emergency housing.

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