The National Party has called the growing number of children living in motels a “moral failure”.
There was an increase of 279 tamariki in motels in the three months through September, to a total of 4,512 children in emergency housing.
Te Tai Tokerau housing trust, kaiārahi Ange Tepania, said efforts to shift families from crisis to trust in the North are being tested right now.
“With the state of the housing situation and environment in the present, even our own confidence in a better future for whanau is rapidly diminishing right now, as the realities of whanau securing homes look quite bleak.”
The trust manages short-term transitional housing in Whangārei, but over the past year demand far exceeded supply: 266 consultations with capacity for 56 homes.
Some of the families they work with seek to get out of overcrowded homes, cars or motels where the Ministry of Social Development might have placed them.
There were 24,474 people on the public housing waiting list at the end of June.
National housing spokeswoman Nicola Willis said the fact that so many people are being pushed out of the private market is due to government failures.
“They can’t pay the rent for a private rental, so they end up in arrears and then end up in emergency housing.
“It is imperative that the government stop pushing those rents through things like raising taxes on homeowners which has an obvious flow effect.”
Willis said the growing number of children living in motels reflects a dire situation.
“These are the children who are our most vulnerable children, and if we want to have any hope for them, we need them to go to school, have some kind of routine, have some kind of regular access to medical professionals and other people.” How can we give them that if they’re in a motel room?
“This is an absolute moral failure and it is an indictment against a government that promised to solve the housing crisis.”
But that claim is being rejected by Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni, who said National must take responsibility for the moral failure of not building enough housing while in government.
“The policy of emergency housing accommodation began under the previous national government; it was a response, and it had to be done, when it was publicly recognized that there were a large number of families, including children sleeping in cars and the homeless, so that the moral failure actually occurred there.. “
Since he was in government, Sepuloni said the government has been doing everything it can to increase the number of public and transitional housing.
Right now, some cities like Whangārei are running out of space to place families in need, with available motels all full, but Sepuloni said work is underway to make sure those families are taken care of.