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Friday, May 04, 2018

NZ Govt: ‘Be flexible’

When was the last time any government ever said to the government departments dealing with poor and struggling people, “be flexible”? That just happened in New Zealand, as the country prepares to enter winter with a government determined that homeless families should NOT have to sleep in cars. This is a dramatic change.

Today the Labour Party-led government announced $37 million in urgent funding to help with providing adequate housing this winter, as part of a plan to help the homeless. The previous government under the National Party was shamed into providing some emergency housing in motels. The current government acknowledges that it may have no choice but to use motels again, but it’s asked the public for help in finding suitable winter accommodation for the homeless.

The government parties—Labour, the Greens and NZ First—all campaigned on fixing all the things that National underfunded or ignored when it was in government, and Labour in particular made housing, and ending homelessness in particular, a priority. So the fact that it’s included in the upcoming budget should be a surprise to no one. For its part, the Opposition and its allies in the NZ newsmedia will snipe and snark, but it seems to me that’s largely because they have no answer to nine years of ignoring the problems facing the poorest people in New Zealand.

The Prime Minister said, "We are telling our social services: 'When people come with need, be flexible. Be flexible. Help them meet their needs. Our support network is there for a reason, so help them'." That alone is an enormous contrast with the previous government.

So, when was the last time any government ever said to the government departments dealing with poor and stuggling people, “be flexible”? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I certainly can’t remember ever hearing that before.

See also: “Govt announces $100m plan to combat homelessness”Newshub

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