Emergency Housing Standards Urgent

MEDIA RELEASE: December 21, 2020

Community Law Centres O Aotearoa (CLCA) is calling on Government agencies to ensure emergency housing providers meet basic standards as competing pressures mount over the Summer holidays.

“Handing over millions of dollars of taxpayer funding to private providers without any requirement for a decent level of service and basic human rights to be adhered to is unacceptable, “says CLCA CEO Sue Moroney.  “It amounts to no care and no responsibility to protect families when they are at their most vulnerable.”

Community Law Centres have supported clients who have been placed into unsafe emergency housing and others who have been treated unfairly by emergency housing providers.

“Our experience is that this worsens as motel operators favour holidaymakers over the homeless in the lucrative Summer months. The people they have accepted significant funding for, suddenly find themselves evicted through no fault of their own”

Emergency and transitional housing tenants were exempted from the Residential Tenancies Act when it was amended earlier this year, meaning that they do not have the rights or complaints processes that other tenants have.

“The Ministry of Social Development has a duty to ensure its clients are protected by basic provisions and rights. It also has a duty towards taxpayers, to ensure they are getting value for money,” says Sue. “MSD has informed us that the average length of stay in emergency housing has now risen to 14 weeks. Standards need to improve.”

CLCA has requested that MSD has a standard contract they offer emergency housing providers before the release of any funds to them and that they have an accreditation process for any providers they suggest to their clients for emergency housing.

“This would be standard process in any other Government procurement – it’s even more important to have them in place when people are so vulnerable,” says Sue.

“The Code of Practise being developed for transitional housing by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development looks promising, but it would need to be underpinned by appropriate contractual arrangements and a complaints process that emergency housing tenants can easily access.”

ENDS

Media contacts:

Sue Moroney, CEO Community Law: 027 422-7831 sue@clca.co.nz

 

Background

Twenty-four Community Law Centres work out of over 140 locations across New Zealand to provide free legal help and advice to those who are unable to pay for a private lawyer or who do not have access to legal aid. This advice covers all aspects of New Zealand’s legal system, including family law, employment issues, housing problems, consumer advice and criminal law. As well as around 240 staff, Community Law’s services are boosted by over 1,200 volunteer lawyers who run clinics and deliver free advice and assistance.

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