The government can’t – or won’t – say if crime is increasing in and around emergency housing, because the police are not collecting that information.
Neither the police nor the Social Development Ministry (MSD) is actively monitoring incidents of crime, violence or family harm in this type of housing, but do encourage people to come forward if they feel at risk.
RNZ has been told numerous stories of people being victimised while living in motels, in what can be intimidating and violent environments – with the police often having to turn up.
More than $900,000 is being spent each day on emergency housing; there are no contracts with providers, and no expectations of a service beyond a typical guest.
Moreover, the numbers are exploding and they include children – about 4,000 at last count.
Housing and social advocates say it is dangerous and totally unacceptable especially for already vulnerable children and women, in some cases escaping abusive relationships.
Some accommodation has been described by one government minister as “inhumane”, not “fully safe for everybody” and some made to feel “barely human, seen primarily as a way for commercial motels to make quick money”.
MSD, which hands out the grants, says it responds when concerns are raised, but does not “centrally record” incidents of family harm, criminal activity or social disorder.
Police “recognise community concerns about a perceived increase of crime” but do not “collect data specifically in relation to emergency housing”.
A perceived increase in crime?
Serious assaults have doubled from 2017 to 2020. That’s not perceived.
Total acts intended to cause injury were 4,100 a month in 2018 and so far in 2021 is averaging 5,600 a month.