Hokitika – lack of accommodation leading to ‘sleeping rough’

Nov 9, 2017 | News

Reported by Janna Sherman of the Hokitika Guardian

“One single person has nowhere to live. He has been living on the streets and sleeping rough and staying at other people’s places until they are no longer able to have him,” Ms Timmerman wrote to the Westland District Council.

“No long-term solutions are in sight, although Work and Income are at present paying emergency accommodation costs.”

The social worker was also working with a young couple who were about to lose their flat. Earlier in the year the female had been homeless and sleeping under the Hokitika Bridge, she said.

“Both people are registered with Housing New Zealand, both have got family in Hokitika and want to remain living here.

I am aware that there are many more people around our town and district struggling to find appropriate accommodation, some sleeping rough, some even having to move elsewhere,” Ms Timmerman said.

“Housing is not just a big city problem any more, I have found out in the last few months.”

She said the loss of questionable but suitable accommodation for some people, such as the former Hokitika Motels in Fitzherbert Street and the Hokitika Holiday Park had exacerbated the situation.

“It seems very difficult to get people into supported accommodation, there are not many Housing New Zealand-owned properties in Hokitika. We do not have other social housing for people under 65 years of age, and even for them there is a very long waiting list.”

While the housing problem was not the council’s she felt it needed addressing now before it worsened.

“Having people out of suitable accommodation raises safety concerns, not only for the people who are homeless but also for the general public,” she said.

Mayor Bruce Smith said the council could focus on looking after pensioners in its existing or future housing, but did not have jurisdiction over social services such as Pact, which had a number of homes in Hokitika, and other government-funded agencies.

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