Housing assistance – The Gisborne Herald

Posted May 18, 2022 1:12 p.m.

Community advocates are calling on the government to increase housing supplements and help low-income households cope with rising rental prices in tomorrow’s budget.

Shelley Hannah-Kingi, spokesperson for the Tairāwhiti Beneficiaries Advocacy Trust, said ideally income-related rents – which Kāinga Ora uses – would help many whānau rather than an increase in the housing supplement.

“Because every time it goes up, the price of rent also goes up.”

Ms Hannah-Kingi said an increase in the cash asset limit to that of the Income-Related Rent Subsidy (IRRS) at the rate of $42,000 would allow people to save and buy a home.

The government could also allow users to capitalize on their Best Start payments or family tax credits for a security deposit.

“They could at least review the housing supplement amounts for each area and recognize the true rent rate people are paying,” Ms Hannah-Kingi said.

“The government should pay extra or move the area to the next area category for accommodation supplement purposes.”

Gisborne is in Zone 3, which only allows $80 maximum. Ms Hannah-Kingi said residents of the Gisborne CBD and surrounding suburbs who were on low income or on benefit should be able to receive the Zone 1 rate – $305 maximum per week – to pay rents over $600 per week.

Auckland is designated Zone 1.

“Our singles need the $165 Zone 1 rate to help them pay rents of around $300 or more.

“The $80 maximum for Gisborne leaves them homeless if they can’t get social housing.

“We have over 700 whānau on the social housing register. Many of them are homeless and need housing now.

“That number continues to rise because it’s the only housing they can afford.

“The list will continue to grow until there is affordable housing or assistance to help subsidize rents.”

The Salvation Army has called on the government to boost its housing assistance for hundreds of thousands of low-income households, including an urgent increase in housing assistance payments, as well as longer-term reforms.

“The budget must urgently increase housing assistance payments for the most vulnerable families,” the military said in a statement.

Salvation Army senior social policy analyst Paul Barber said high rental costs and rapidly rising costs of living are leaving the most vulnerable individuals and families lagging behind in the secure and affordable housing.

“Rent levels have increased by 40% or more since the 2016 rent levels on which the current housing supplement is based.

“Housing payments, such as the Housing Supplement, urgently need to be increased just to catch up with the high cost of housing, while longer-term reforms will make them more fit for purpose.

“Amid this protracted housing crisis, The Salvation Army is looking to this week’s Budget to provide real relief from the high housing and living costs faced by low-income households.”

The Salvation Army’s pre-budget guidance document, Housing Support Crisis Response, was released yesterday (16 May) and is available here: www.salvationarmy.org.nz/article/housing-support-crisis-response

Finance Minister Grant Robertson presents Parliament’s 2022 budget tomorrow afternoon.

Vulnerable: As emergency housing numbers grow, community advocates are hoping for help in tomorrow’s budget. file picture

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