Homelessness Consultation Set for Launch

18 February 2013

The biggest and most comprehensive consultation on homelessness in Wellington starts tomorrow, with the launch of Te Mahana: A Draft Strategy to End Homelessness in Wellington by 2020.

Cover of Te Mahana draft strategy.

Cover of Te Mahana draft strategy

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The strategy - although launched by Wellington City Council - involves a wide range of community and government organisations.

Wellington City Council's Social Portfolio Leader, Councillor Stephanie Cook, says the strategy has been a labour of love by all the people who want to make a difference for Wellington's homeless or at-risk population.

"We have taken our time with this one as we really want to get it right," says Cr Cook.

"It all started last May when over 100 people from 40 agencies got together to come up with an approach, and also some tangible actions, to tackle homelessness. Even then, we noticed that our homeless population was growing. When new faces appear sleeping on the street, you know it's getting worse."

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says homelessness affects all of us.

"It's tragic for the individuals, incompatible with a people-centred approach and can make the city feel unwelcoming for visitors."

Te Mahana speaks of the warmth found in a home. This warmth is more than a roof, bed and food - it includes whether people feel safe, included and respected.

Based on the principle that housing is a basic human right for everyone, priorities include improving the supply of affordable accommodation; reducing evictions; improving data collection on homeless people or those vulnerable to losing their home; and developing protocols to ensure people leaving institutions such as prisons or health facilities are housed and supported.

Councillor Cook appeals to organisations and residents to make submissions to this consultation.

"If we manage to get several hundred submissions supporting some or all of the initiatives, it would give the strategy a lot of weight with community and government organisations. Some residents may feel homelessness has nothing to do with them, but if you talk to some of our homeless families, young people or street people right now, I'm sure they would have thought the same when they were in a more secure place.   

"It appears that homelessness is growing rather than decreasing. With the Census coming up, it will be interesting to see the official numbers."

The official New Zealand definition of homeless is not just related to rough sleepers. It includes people who may be couch surfing, in temporary accommodation such as a safe house, hostel or night shelter, or living in uninhabitable housing.

The strategy document, including the feedback form, is available from the Wellington City Council Service Centre on Wakefield Street, or local libraries. People can also view the strategy and make submissions online on the City Council website, Wellington.govt.nz. The consultation closes on Friday 3 May.