Auckland braces for increasing numbers of homeless over winter

by Eva Corlett / 26 April, 2018

Help us find and write the stories Kiwis need to read

Social services say with new arrivals in Auckland, the homeless community is going to be bigger than ever this year. Photo / Getty Images

Groups working with homeless people are bracing themselves for another gruelling few months as winter sets in.

Emergency housing providers said the need for homes in the colder months is just as high as previous years and urgent plans must be made to ensure people were sheltered.

De Paul House, based on Auckland's North Shore, has been housing people for 32 years and manager Jan Rutledge said this year would be just as tough as last year.

"It's very hard to gather what the need will be, but it's certainly anecdotally something that we are really concerned about.

"Demand always peaks in winter, and in terms of our services, it's still really distressingly easy to fill our spaces - we do have a wait-list and for the 23 places for families that we have, they are pretty much continually at full capacity."

The 2013 census showed more than 41,000 people were without homes or living in unsuitable or overcrowded accommodation.

More than 6000 people are waiting for a house on the Ministry of Social Development's social housing register.

Ms Rutledge said these figures were unlikely to represent the real scale of homelessness.

"The social housing system is really complex and, unless you have an advocate, your needs are often not captured accurately.

"There is, increasingly, a call to measure the demand, which would be really effective," Ms Rutledge said.

Bernie Smith of Monte Cecilia Housing Trust, which focuses on families in need, said the trust was full and fielding multiple calls a day.

"Rentals have increased, housing stock has decreased, but we're getting new arrivals in Auckland every day, so our homeless community is going to be bigger than ever before."

Local and central government need to start resourcing and planning with community groups, Mr Smith said.

"Community and state leaders, church leaders, entrepreneurs, everyone should be coming together right now and let's come up with a creative plan to make sure no one is living in a park or a car over this winter.

"There's lots of community halls, there's lots of church halls, doing not too dissimilar to what Te Puea Maraeis doing."

Mr Smith has also urged "mum and dad property investors" to rent homes to emergency providers.

Lifewise's Housing First programme, which is run in cooperation with Auckland City Mission, aims to keep chronically homeless people housed.

It has housed 39 people in the last year, while the broader Housing First Collective has housed 387.

Paul Timinis from Lifewise said getting people straight into a home helped keep them there.

"All the whānau that are housed are now supporting the ones that are homeless, and that's huge out there in the community that: 'look at this lady, look at that guy, we can do this, if they can, we can'.

"For example, we had one gentleman who's been on the street 25 years, he's now housed and he still can't believe it to this day."

Mr Timinis said wrap-around support and using a kaupapa Māori response to housing people also resonated with the community.

"As Māori we look at the heartbeat of a person - not the stigma, the mad, bad or sad," he said.

"And then we can generate friendship; we can generate trust."

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said the government was putting together a package of measures to make sure no one was without shelter this winter.

"I don't think any New Zealanders feel okay about the kind of homelessness and the desperate need that we've seen from people over the last couple of winters.

"We're doing everything we can to mobilise extra resources."

The government will announce the package over the coming weeks, which will include rolling out more emergency and transitional housing.

This article was originally published by RNZ.


As a young reporter, I went undercover to expose the Ku Klux Klan
95069 2018-08-17 00:00:00Z History

As a young reporter, I went undercover to expose t…

by Dick Lehr

How a young reporter infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan - and discovered the truth about its conman leader David Duke.

Read more
The EV battery scare shows the urgent need to support green technology
95080 2018-08-17 00:00:00Z Environment

The EV battery scare shows the urgent need to supp…

by The Listener

With nearly half of New Zealanders considering buying an EV in the next two years, the results could be electrifying.

Read more
Limits don't apply to dancer Aloalii Tapu's work
93844 2018-08-17 00:00:00Z Arts

Limits don't apply to dancer Aloalii Tapu's work

by Kate Richards

Otara-raised Aloalii Tapu uses a myriad of dance influences to express his ideas about manhood, suicide and post-colonialism.

Read more
The artist and poet who refused to play by the narrow rules of NZ art
94118 2018-08-17 00:00:00Z Arts

The artist and poet who refused to play by the nar…

by Sally Blundell

Decades in France have made Douglas MacDiarmid an elusive figure in NZ art history. A new biography delivers a vital portrait of the 96-year-old.

Read more
12 of the best op shops in Auckland
95053 2018-08-17 00:00:00Z Where to go in Auckland

12 of the best op shops in Auckland

by Vomle Springford

With Auckland’s high cost of living, it can be hard to fork out for new clothes, or new anything really. But op shops are plentiful here.

Read more
How virtual reality can help us understand how we think
95019 2018-08-17 00:00:00Z Psychology

How virtual reality can help us understand how we …

by Marc Wilson

When you're flying through the air like superman in virtual reality, chances are you'll brace for impact at landing.

Read more
Where to eat this ski season
94882 2018-08-17 00:00:00Z Food

Where to eat this ski season

by Kate Richards

A trip to the snow doesn’t have to mean a diet of hot chips and sad hotdogs.

Read more
Simon Bridges' spending leak: Hunt for leaker begins
95064 2018-08-16 10:38:12Z Politics

Simon Bridges' spending leak: Hunt for leaker begi…

by Jo Moir

All eyes are on National Party MPs, the office of the Speaker and Parliamentary Service now the hunt for the leaker has begun.

Read more