WelCom October 2021
The Salvation Army has called on the Government to impose a freeze on rent increases, among other measures, to help those most in need as demand for food and housing support skyrockets.
Between mid-August when lockdown began and the first week of September, there was an 84 per cent increase in demand for emergency food parcels, with the rising need concentrated most heavily in south Auckland, says the Army. More than 2200 parcels were distributed across the country in the last week of August alone.
The proposal to freeze rent increases is one of several outlined in the Salvation Army’s second Covid-19 Lockdown Briefing, released on 2 September 2021. Since the first lockdown was introduced in March 2020, the number of people waiting for social housing has increased by 8200, and the number of those receiving welfare support has risen by around 45,000.
The briefing illustrates the plight of Kiwis struggling with the stresses of lockdown, including those living in crowded or substandard housing in the private rental market, casual contractors currently unable to work, and sole parent families. There is also a cohort with health or mobility challenges who are struggling to access the essential items they need, as well as those with limited access to the internet or digital devices who are unable to shop online.
‘You’ve got that double combination of lack of income and lack of access to food,’ the Salvation Army’s senior social policy analyst, Paul Barber, told The AM Show.
The Salvation Army says many families rely on the Ministry of Education’s Ka Ora, Ka Ako programme, which provides healthy lunches for school children. But when schools are closed, these families struggle to afford enough food for their tamariki, says the Army.
In the Covid-19 Lockdown Briefing, the Salvation Army also calls on the Government to:
- bring forward the implementation of the April 2022 benefit increases with immediate effect
- implement immediate assistance to help families meet rents
- implement a freeze on rent increases, at least for Auckland for the duration of levels 3 and 4 and beyond
- ensure the Ministry of Education is connected and supporting families who usually receive their healthy school lunches programme
- ensure migrant workers have full entitlement to the Emergency Benefit with Ministry of Social Development, following the end of the Manaaki Manuhiri programme.