Not being facetious: why is the government not buying more motels?

Five Auckland motels have received more than $1.3 million of taxpayer money in just three months to house homeless people.

The grants are given to people “when all other options are exhausted, to provide a short-term solution”, but Salvation Army social policy unit director Ian Hutson said the situation could have been avoided.

“What we’re reaping is related to the lack of early intervention, and ideally we don’t want more and more emergency accommodation, what we want is affordable housing,” Mr Hutson said.

Rounding out the five providers given the most grants were the Knightsbridge Motor Lodge in Papatoetoe, at $334,578; 540 Motel in Otahuhu, at $242,187; the Allenby Park Hotel in Papatoetoe, at $220,750; and the Rockfield Motel in Penrose at $199,649.

In total, the ministry granted 8860 grants to 2616 people in the last quarter of last year – at a total cost of $7,735,788, or an average of about $2.5m per month.

You compare that to the brouhaha over taxing bottled water at 10 cents a litre which would net less than $900,000 a year.

$2.5m in motel bills every month seems to be a good enough case for the government to go into the motel business.?

No wonder Adele concert goers couldn’t find anywhere to stay in Auckland – the government has a near permanent choke hold on the lower end of the motel market.

The government has already purchased one motel in Takanini, and Mr Ngaro said in some cases purchasing or procuring a hotel was still the best option.

Under the scheme, families of five or more can be given up to $260 a night – or $1820 a week.

In comparison, the median rent for a three-bedroom home in the south of Papatoetoe is about $500 per week.

“You can see how much better that would be spent paying rent on an affordable house that someone can live in for a long time, rather than a house that might only be for a few months at most and getting moved on. That’s not ideal. You want a permanent dwelling, a stable family life,” Mr Hutson said.

It’s embarrassing for a government to try to be getting social housing out of government hands and into the private sector and then find that they have created the conditions where they actually have to buy motels or hotels to house the people that can’t find any social housing.

And people who do jobs like that get promoted to Deputy Prime Minister.

It’s not surprising that National is lost. ?They are in their third term and hoping for a fourth. ?But in this particular area, prolonged mismanagement by this government and Paula Bennett in particular has created a problem that can’t be solved even within one parliamentary term.