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Labour promises to help the homeless

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 7/07/2016 By Peter Wilson, Political Writer

Labour is promising "serious action" to end homelessness if it wins next year's election, and the government says that's great news.

Party leader Andrew Little says $60 million would be put into emergency housing over four years, enough to put a roof over the heads of 5100 homeless people a year.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett announced in May, ahead of the budget, that $41m was being allocated to pay for about 3000 emergency housing places.

"They've obviously decided to pick up our policy and run with it, I think it's great news," she told reporters on Thursday.

"I'm not sure where they're going to get them from - magic them up from imaginary beds that are sitting empty?"

Mr Little says too many families will spend this winter living in cars, couch surfing or cramped into the lounges and garages of relatives.

"This policy - along with Labour's plans to launch a massive state-backed affordable house building programme and build more state houses rather than sell them off - will help end homelessness in New Zealand."

Mr Little says the policy would provide 1400 beds or 5100 places a year which, along with current provisions, would bring the total emergency housing available to 8100 with 2200 beds at any given time.

"Recent Otago University research estimated there are 42,000 homeless people throughout the country and of those almost 4200 are sleeping rough," he said.

"The homeless are at the sharp end of the government's housing crisis."

Documents released with the announcement show that typically people are homeless for a few months, and there is a considerable flow of people in and out of homelessness.

"This new supply of emergency housing will be enough, over time, to support the homeless population into permanent housing."

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