Summit to Face Comments from People on the Street

24 May 2012

"I need some decent shoes. Walking around all day is killing my feet."

"I cannot afford to live in the suburbs, buses cost too much, it's too far from friends and people that will accept me for who I am, cheap supermarkets are too far away, just makes me feel lonely and sad...was happier on the street."

"Why don't people talk to each other? Too much red tape, and going over the same things over and over again."

"I need stable accommodation before I can see my kids."

"I need spiritual health as well as personal health. I don't have either at the moment."

"I am bored of sitting on my arse at one dead-end drop-in centre after another."

"Been on the HNZC and City Housing lists for months but nobody can tell me when I might get a place."

"Women cannot stay at the Night Shelter because it's not safe, do you think it's safer for me to be on the street?"

"Nobody is around after 5pm, who looks out for me when everybody else has gone home to their nice warm homes?"

These comments were gathered from members of Wellington's homeless community, and people will be asked to respond to them at a summit hosted by Wellington City Council on Tuesday (29 May). The Council is taking the lead on a multi-agency approach to help homeless people.

More than 80 people from Government, volunteer, health, faith-based and trust sectors are to take part in the Council's first-ever 'lock-in' - an exercise to tackle the issue together.

Wellington City Council's Social Portfolio Leader, Councillor Stephanie Cook, is delighted so many organisations have confirmed their attendance.

"This alone speaks volumes. By coming along on this day, all agencies are demonstrating their commitment to really doing something about homelessness, from prevention to crisis intervention, to finding housing for some of our most vulnerable."

Organisations include:

  • Department of Corrections
  • Capital and Coast District Health Board
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Downtown Community Ministry
  • Wellington Women's Refuge
  • Sisters of Compassion
  • Te Aro Health
  • the Night Shelter
  • Salvation Army
  • Wellington City Mission
  • Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust
  • Wellington Housing Trust.

Councillor Cook says while many agencies are already working well together, this is a great opportunity to see what could be done better and where some of the gaps are.

"This day will allow all attendees to make decisions together on who does what, and form an agreement that will hold people to it. The only way we can properly tackle homelessness is for everyone to pull their weight. The enthusiasm is clearly there, all we need to do is formalise it through this process."

Attendees at the 'lock-in' will come up with an action plan on the day. The aims of the new action plan include:

  • gathering more reliable data
  • closing the entry points to homelessness - for example by working with people struggling to pay their rent so they don't lose their home
  • breaking down funding silos
  • information-sharing between organisations
  • appropriate training for staff
  • investigating the feasibility of a central service for all affordable accommodation options in Wellington city.

Once an agreement has taken place, a draft homelessness policy will be brought back to the Council's Strategy and Policy Committee.

Homelessness is officially defined as a living situation where a person cannot acquire safe and secure housing, is without shelter, in temporary accommodation, sharing accommodation with a household, or living in substandard housing.

The Council estimates there are 200 homeless people in Wellington city - including rough sleepers. This compares with 160 a year ago.