Govt should wipe housing debt as Minister caught fibbing

The Green Party is calling on the Government to wipe any debt that families owe Work and Income after being forced to borrow to pay for emergency accommodation.

“It’s utterly cruel to inflict an enormous debt on families who, through no fault of their own, have not got a home to live in,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.

“The Government has announced it’ll provide only seven days temporary accommodation before forcing families to pay Work & Income back for any costs incurred in providing a bed for desperate families.

“With families waiting months for a Housing New Zealand home, seven days ‘free’ emergency accommodation is nowhere near enough.

“Desperate parents need to know that if there’s no state or private home for them, they can find a bed for their children to sleep in without being forced into crippling debt to the Government.

Meanwhile, Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett has been has been caught misleading New Zealand over the supposedly “new” 3000 emergency housing beds she announced earlier this year.

Under questioning this morning, Paula Bennett confirmed the 3000 beds she had claimed in Parliament were new, were in fact existing beds, already provided by community housing organisations.

“Paula Bennett gave false hope to desperate families who were told there’d be more beds available for them, when in fact there weren’t additional beds at all.

“While it’s good that the Government has helped community groups by funding some of the places they were already providing, it’s not honest to claim the Government was providing additional support to families.

“The Government can solve the housing crisis, by building thousands of new state and affordable homes. Its time for the Government to stop pretending that the market will solve the housing crisis, and to do something to end it.

“Along with an agreement to wipe existing emergency housing debt, the Government today should give desperate families the assurance that it will cover the costs of emergency housing till it finds those families a proper home,” Mrs Turei said.

Link to Hansard - Minister for Social Housing answering questions.

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