Accommodation Assistance extended for homeowners hit by Auckland floods, Cyclone Gabrielle

Temporary Accommodation Assistance will be extended for people displaced by Cyclone Gabrielle and the Auckland Anniversary floods, the government has announced.

It will continue weekly accommodation payments until June 2025 to help bridge the gap for homeowners until a decision is made on the future of their properties.

The announcement came as Auckland City Council said it would be assessing homes into next year, with more people expected to register up to the close date at the end of September.

Homeowners already registered and waiting were expected to have their categories before the end of the year, and those who signed up last year should hear when they would receive their categorisation by the end of July.

‘It’s really a struggle for a lot of people’ – Councillor Shane Henderson

Waitākere ward councillor Shane Henderson told Morning Report anyone who needed support should register for categorisation as soon as possible.

“We need to know that you’re out there so that we can get you the help you need …. people are still trickling in.”

The delay in registering may have been caused by their difficult experience with the Auckland Anniversary floods.

“Maybe there’s some people that haven’t realised [how badly they were affected], but there’s also other people … that this has been an emotional journey for…

“Just facing that struggle has been really hard for many and so I really understand that … and that certainly is the situation for a lot of my constituents in the West.”

A car submerged during the Auckland Anniversary floods in February 2023.

There were still about 1000 people displaced by the weather events last year, he said, and 200 households receiving the temporary assistance grant.

There were about 1500 properties yet to be assessed.

“We’re still rolling through the assessments – we’re about halfway through …. and getting through as quickly as we can – the more complex cases obviously taking more time.

“It’s really tough for people, people are doing it really hard – we’ll be looking at [two years on from the floods] by the end of this, potentially, and it’s really a struggle for a lot of people.”

Auckland councillor Shane Henderson and Detail co-host Sharon Brettkelly wearing hi-vis, standing on the side of a damaged road.

The grants covered the cost of temporary accommodation while they were living away from their storm-damaged homes, as well as mental health support.

“We’re still playing the waiting game for some families, and that’s so hard for some people.”

Auckland City Council Waitākere ward councillor Shane Henderson.

With the risk of future disasters caused by climate change, there was “so much” for the council to learn, he said.

“This is one of those situations where we’ve had to design the plane as we’re flying it at the same time, and there has been some issues along the way.

“We’re doing our very best and we’re learning as we go, and we’re going to have to learn because we’re in a climate change world now.”

A community advocate was pleased accommodation support had been extended, but said more could be done to help.

Piha Karekare Anawhata Stickered Residents Group spokesperson Tasha Gray told Morning Report it was always going to take a long time to complete the categorisation process, but the extension was an “absolutely good thing”.

“The allowance just helps people who couldn’t find support through the accommodation service, it gives them more freedom to find their own rentals and … more capacity to get back on their feet.”

The support covered about 75 percent of the average Auckland rental home, she said.

“It’s important to remember that a lot of these people … are paying mortgages – so this rental cost is on top of their mortgage.”

The long wait had been “the most stressful experience of my life”, she said.

“From the people we’re talking to it also is for them.”

The council had been working at pace, but it was an “enormous” job and it needed to be done properly, she said.

The residents’ group was concerned that the accommodation support excluded those who held their property in a trust.

People may have delayed registering for an assessment of storm damage before now, because “they’ve realised … they can’t fix it on their own. They’re probably seeing other people moving through the process and realising they need to join it too.”

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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