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To: Hon. Minister Anne Tolley

Minister Anne Tolley: Forgive WINZ Motel Emergency Accommodation Debt

Thank you for helping to make a difference.

On the 25th of May I flew down to Wellington to deliver our petition to the Minister. It was because of your support, and the support of more than 9000 others, that Minister Anne Tolley agreed to meet with me. Together we showed her this issue cannot be ignored.

When I asked her what could be done to help people and families facing the impossible choice between homelessness or unmanageable debt over the coming winter months, the Minister acknowledged the urgency of the situation and told us she would look into possible solutions.

Just a few hours after our meeting, the Minister’s office called to tell us that changes to the policy will be brought forward from September to 1 July. These changes will mean that the first week of emergency housing would be covered by a special needs grant rather than a loan. A week is not going to be long enough if there is nowhere to go once that week is up, so the Government still has a lot of work to be done to make sure there are enough houses for people to move into.

As Minister of Social Development we call upon Minister Anne Tolley to urgently forgive all debts incurred by people who have been forced to stay in Motels as emergency accommodation, by WINZ. We believe this is an unacceptable burden to be placed upon people who are homeless and is passing the buck to those that can least afford it.

Why is this important?

When people are in desperate need, Winz loan people money so they can rent out a motel room as emergency housing. [1] People then have to repay the debt, and many say that is just not possible.

This is a ridiculous and inhumane policy in effect locking people who are already in such dire straits that they are homeless, into further debt.

Furthermore, it does nothing to solve the housing crisis and is open to exploitation by the Motel owners, and the people themselves have little choice but to agree.

Take Nicole in the picture, who is living in a motel with her three children, including an eight-week-old baby, but the family is facing the real possibility of having to live in a car.

Nicole is among many Work and Income (Winz) clients who are being put up in $190-a-night motels because there simply isn't enough emergency housing to cope with the demand, a ministry source says. All of them will have to pay the motel costs back even if they can't afford it. [2] This needs to change. Sign the petition.


1) Homeless borrow thousands for motels, RadioNZ, 17 May 2016

2) Eight-week-old baby among hundreds homeless, RadioNZ, 18 May 2016

How it will be delivered

Once we have reached 10,000 signatures, we will deliver the petition to the Minister, Hon. Anne Tolley. If the Minister is not available we'll deliver to Māori Party MP Marama Fox who will hand deliver it to the Minister.


2018-04-02 10:45:42 +1200

Petition is successful with 10,063 signatures

2016-07-30 08:58:37 +1200

10,000 signatures reached

2016-07-19 11:16:26 +1200

Petition is successful with 9,993 signatures

2016-07-13 14:47:13 +1200

Petition is successful with 9,962 signatures

2016-05-26 12:43:54 +1200

WINZ hotel debt can be wiped, but only in exceptional circumstances - Minister,, May 25 2016

2016-05-20 20:08:39 +1200

5,000 signatures reached

2016-05-19 09:26:54 +1200

1,000 signatures reached

2016-05-18 23:50:25 +1200

500 signatures reached

2016-05-18 21:20:57 +1200

100 signatures reached

2016-05-18 20:57:16 +1200

50 signatures reached

2016-05-18 20:18:31 +1200

25 signatures reached

2016-05-18 20:07:39 +1200

10 signatures reached