Spotlight on CAB clients needing emergency accommodation
This Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) report paints a disturbing picture of vulnerable children, families and individuals who are being left without the safety net of somewhere warm and safe to sleep for the night, sometimes after having asked for help from a government agency.
CAB acknowledges the complexities in this area – the bigger picture of the lack of availability of affordable housing, including social housing, as well as the fact that some evictions happen because people have breached tenancy agreements. To address these issues, CAB urges Government to redouble its efforts to increase our stock of affordable housing, reduce the waiting times for social housing and support existing tenants to remain housed. In the short term, CAB see a number of steps that could be taken immediately to strengthen our safety net and address some of the issues raised in this report.
1. That Work and Income take responsibility for finding emergency accommodation for people who ask for help because they have nowhere suitable to live and no access to shelter. That, where there is no emergency accommodation available, Work and Income have access to funding to pay for other suitable temporary accommodation. This funding should be sufficient to provide temporary accommodation until adequate safe, secure and permanent housing can be accessed.
2. That Work and Income and the Social Housing Assessment division of the Ministry of Social Development collaborate to ensure that people who are on the social housing register have suitable temporary accommodation while they wait for social housing.
3. That when Housing New Zealand wishes tenants or other residents to leave a Housing New Zealand property these people are supported (in collaboration with other government agencies) to find alternative accommodation that is safe, stable and affordable.
4. That one government agency be made responsible for an Emergency Accommodation Strategy. This would include co-ordinating the roles that different government agencies play; ensuring that government agencies are not themselves the drivers of homelessness but are part of the solution; monitoring the effectiveness of this strategy in preventing homelessness.