To better understand homelessness and create a strategy to resolve it, Council staff have worked closely with local schools, health providers, government agencies, people and families who have found themselves homeless, and the social service organisations that work closely with them.
The first phase of the strategy lays out the vision, principles and priorities that will guide Council’s plan of action to address homelessness. (You can have your say on these by taking the survey via the link at the foot of the page.)
Council’s research shows homelessness has increased significantly in the last 12 years and it’s taking longer to house those without a home.
Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace says the complexities of homelessness mean only a carefully coordinated approach involving the entire community will solve the problem.
“Council, government or the social service organisations working in isolation cannot end homelessness in Lower Hutt,” he says.
“While Council is taking the lead in developing a homelessness strategy, it will take all those working in this area together, as well as the understanding and support of the wider community, if we are to be successful.”
Homelessness is defined as people not having safe and secure housing, and this includes not only those living on the streets or in cars but in temporary, unsafe or overcrowded accommodation.
The main reason for homelessness in Lower Hutt is insufficient affordable and suitable housing, which has effectively locked many of those on low incomes out of the private rental market. Private rents in the northern and eastern wards climbed 26 and 25 per cent respectively in the last three years and 20 per cent in Wainuiomata.
Compounding the problem is a jump in the waiting list for public housing of 153 per cent between the 2016 and 2018 September quarters, and a disproportionate number of Lower Hutt households receiving support to stay in emergency accommodation, such as hotels and motels, compared to the rest of the Wellington Region.
For some time, Council has been working on improving housing supply and Lower Hutt is now seeing its first sustained growth in residential building for several decades. Other initiatives to improve housing supply are in the pipeline.
Because of the urgency of the issue, Council has brought forward its discussion of its role in addressing homelessness and on a range of specific actions aimed at delivering an effective response to homelessness. This will take place at an extraordinary Council Meeting on 25 March.
• To take part in the survey, go to: https://survey.publicvoice.co.nz/s3/hcc-homeless