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Homeless community shown support in Waitematā

Published: 13 May 2019

Waitematā Local Board is continuing to look at ways to fund small initiatives that complement Housing First Auckland and other regional projects that address homelessness.

Those who sleep rough or live in temporary accommodation or in uninhabitable dwellings are officially defined as homeless by Statistics New Zealand.

The level of homelessness across Auckland has increased by 26 per cent between the 2006 and 2013 censuses. Based on this increase, Statistics New Zealand says homelessness in Auckland could reach more than 26,000 by 2021.

A 2016 street count by Auckland City Mission found 177 rough sleepers within three kilometres of the Sky Tower and a further 51 in emergency accommodation or hospital who would otherwise have been on the street.

Waitematā Local Board Chair Pippa Coom says being responsive to the needs of the area’s homeless community is one of the key outcomes of the local board’s Waitematā Local Board Plan 2017, and they are now building on previous work undertaken.

In 2018, the local board funded a programme providing hot showers for homeless at the Ellen Melville Centre and also assisted Auckland City Mission in purchasing 50 portable backpack beds (swags) for rough sleepers in the city centre.

Ms Coom says next steps involve support of longer-term, sustainable solutions.

“We’ll be partnering with community agencies, central government and council teams to ensure a joined-up approach to assisting our homeless communities,” she said.

An initial step has seen the local board allocate $20,000 from its 2018/2019 work programme to support some of these longer-term solutions.

Lifewise Auckland will receive a $10,000 grant to support the initial scoping of an Auckland Housing Help Centre; an $8,000 grant will go to Heart of the City to support their Street Guardians Programme, and $2,000 will go towards volunteer training facilitated by the Auckland City Mission.

Lifewise’s Auckland Housing Help Centre will be available to all people experiencing housing-related issues. The centre will use a self-help approach for people who are able to solve their own housing needs. In addition, it will provide in-depth advice and support for people with multi-faceted issues.

Heart of the City’s Street Guardians Programme has been running since October 2018, providing members of Auckland’s homeless community with a weekly opportunity to spend the day with organisations like The Pallet Kingdom and Sustainable Coastlines doing activities like building planter boxes and cleaning up beaches.

Ms Coom says there are many volunteers across the local board area who work to support homeless communities and they deserve support and recognition.

“These volunteers may be part of a group or work individually. The work they do is vital but it’s often in isolation. We want to change that by working alongside Auckland City Mission to support training and capacity building for these volunteers.

“With this work, our local board is on our way towards achieving our vision of inclusive, vibrant, healthy and connected Waitematā, where everyone has access to shelter and warmth” she said.

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