“There is no quick fix, there isn’t just one solution and there isn’t one single provider or agency that will resolve this on their own,” the mayor says.
“The Ministry of Social Development’s Housing First programme will be in Rotorua soon to provide long-term housing and support for the homeless. We look forward to a provider being announced and Council will do whatever we can to support this work.
“In the meantime, we continue to focus on getting everyone through this winter and on this front we’re very pleased that MSD, as lead agency for emergency and social housing, is now providing an outreach service to offer immediate assistance to the homeless in our community. MSD says there is no need for anyone to be sleeping rough or in cars because there are options they can provide and that’s very reassuring. We want everyone in our community to be safe,” the mayor says.
Meanwhile, Rotorua Lakes Council will keep working with various groups already providing support for the homeless and with others able to provide short-term assistance. Church groups in Rotorua, some of which already help families in need of emergency housing, have offered to provide support if needed.
Work to implement Council’s homeless action plan following a meeting with homeless people to find out their needs is also continuing, including provision of access to ablution facilities.
“Homelessness is a challenging issue and there are many complexities involved. That’s why we are working with a range of providers, including MSD, LinkPeople, Lifewise, churches and community groups, and why we’re exploring any and all potential solutions which collectively may provide for people’s immediate needs. Health services also need to be part of this.”
Councillors and Waiariki MP Tamati Coffey, who has expressed an interest in helping to address homelessness in Rotorua, are being kept up to date about the emergency response work under way to provide support for the homeless over winter.
“We are all working towards the same outcome but the solution isn’t simple,” Council’s People Portfolio lead Councillor Merepeka Raukawa-Tait says.
“We are very aware that we have a problem that needs solutions and that’s what we’ve been trying to work towards, with others, to get us through the winter months. It’s our hope MSD’s outreach service will alleviate some of the pressure but Council will also keep talking to others in our community who may be able to assist,” she says.
“There’s a lot of effort going into this because ultimately, we all want the same outcome – for all people in our community to be safe and have a roof over their heads. Each person has different needs and while it may appear a simple exercise the solution is not a one size fits all.”
Mr Coffey says homelessness is an issue that affects the entire community.
“It is only through pulling together collectively as a community that we can deliver for our people in need. I encourage all those who may be able to help to contact MSD and let them know, just as I encourage those in need not to be shy about stepping forward.
“Many Kiwis across the country have offered shelter over the last few months, motivated by the Government’s actions to address our national housing crisis. Our people are at the heart of this challenge and our people will be at the heart of the solution,” he says.
Read the story on Scoop here.