Auckland council say its time to get serious about homelessness

Mar 31, 2016 | News

Auckland Council’s Community Development and Safety Committee convened yesterday to discuss homelessness and delivered a clear message to agencies and central government: we will not see an end to homelessness without nationwide collaboration and funding.

An Auckland City Mission count in October 2014 found 147 people sleeping rough within a 3km radius of the Sky Tower – up 116 per cent from a count of 68 in 2013.

Those figures encouraged Auckland Council, Auckland City Mission and Lifewise to talk directly with rough sleepers past and present, their families and the general public, and resulted in the study ‘An insight into the experience of rough sleeping in central Auckland’ released in January 2015.

Councillor Cathy Casey, Chair of the Community Development and Safety Committee, says the council’s focus on homelessness over the last two years has yielded some powerful insights and uncovered alarming trends.

“In this financial year we’ve already allocated just over $115,000 to Community Housing Aotearoa to help address the growing demand for emergency housing across the region, and to improve the coordination of existing services. And I’m pleased that one of the community initiative outcomes we’re exploring is increased amenity services for homeless people such as lockers and showers.

Councillor Casey says that the council and its partners have opened some crucial doors on understanding homelessness, but that we’ve only scratched the surface.

“Homelessness is now a huge issue in Auckland, with the numbers of people sleeping rough rising. We believe that with the right resources and effort it could be solved, but without them it will get worse.

”Importantly, the issue is not unique to our city. The time has arrived for a national strategy led by central government in partnership with the homeless sector and local councils, and a national target to end homelessness in New Zealand.”

Read more here.

Radio New Zealand report here.

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