Homelessness A Growing Crisis

What is Homelessness?

Homelessness is often defined as a situation where a person or family has no access to adequate and safe housing. This can include people and families living on the streets, in temporary housing, in overcrowded homes or in housing that is in poor condition. Homelessness is also referred to as severe housing deprivation.

Triggers of homelessness

Through interviews made by Lifewise, Auckland Council, Auckland City Mission and ThinkPlace, they found that the reasons people find themselves homeless are often different and complicated. Majority of the reasons were related to family violence. Job loss was another reason as it led to eviction from their home. Leaving prison, running away from a foster homes, poor mental health, drug and alcohol addiction or leaving a gang have also been triggers that led people to living on the streets.

How the housing crisis contributes to homlessness

An important factor that contributes to the rise in homelessness is the current housing crisis of New Zealand. According to the annul report made by the Salvation Army, for the past five years, the city of Auckland has been short 18,000 houses. The report also states that Auckland's population grew by 45,000 people in 2016. In the same year only 9,960 new housing consents had been issued. As the population grows, the shortage of homes is growing as well. Not only is the shortage of homes growing but so is the price of the existing ones, with prices now averaging at $1 million.

The record rate of immigration to New Zealand, particularly to Auckland, is believed to be the cause of the worsening housing crisis. In 2016, Auckland saw 41,000 people migrate to the area. This is a drastic increase from the 2011 stat of 10,300 migrates. Due to the population growth, the low number of new housing consents and housing price increase, it is no wonder that lower income families are forced into severe housing deprivation.

The Growth of Homelessness in new Zealand

In 2001, stats taken from research made by the University of Otago, showed that 28,917 New Zealanders were considered homeless. This stat raised to 33,946 in 2006. Both these stats showed that 0.8% of New Zealand's population were homeless. In 2013 the number of homeless people in New Zealand was recorded at 41,207. This was 1% of the population. This shows that over the years, the number of people and families that are considered to be suffering from severe housing deprivation is steadily increasing.

The growth of homelessness in Auckland city

Recorded in 2016 by the Auckland council, in the Auckland CBD the number of people living on the streets is currently around 177. This is an increase from the recorded 68 people in 2013.

As you walk through Auckland city, you can't help but notice the many homeless people on the streets. The homeless are living in parks, under bridges, in doorways and alleyways. They are trying to find shelter, trying to stay warm or out of the heat, begging for money and just trying to survive.

A homeless man's story

I talked with a man who was almost 50 years old and living on the streets. He believed, at his age, life was pretty much over for him. He told me that he ended up homeless because he had gotten lost in the welfare system of New Zealand. He felt as a child and as a adult, the government had 'done him wrong'. When he was younger he ended up in prison. Once he came out, he wasn't able to get a job. He had finished his schooling and though he looks for it, he can't find suitable work.

He talked about the other homeless people of Auckland. He said that a lot of them came from violent homes, and that is why they ended up on the streets. One point the man stressed, was that the people who walk past judge the homeless. He wants people to gain a better understanding of the homeless. You don't know the situation that caused them to become homeless. Rather than judge, talk to the people and gain a better perspective. This man believed the system had failed him, so he will stay on the streets, but as I thanked him and walked away, he smiled.

How New Zealand is Addressing Homelessness

In order to 'fix' the problem of homelessness, the New Zealand Government has put forward an "end homelessness in Auckland" strategy called Housing First Auckland. This project will not only help many people to find accommodation, but also help them with the issues that caused them to end up on the street. The strategy aims to get 472 people off the street of the Auckland. Over two years, the government hope to get all 472 homeless people into appropriate accommodation. The strategy will focus on many parts of Auckland, such as the south, west and central regions.

The government will fund the project, putting forward $3.7 million. Auckland council will also put forward an additional $1 million. Community organisations such as Affinity Services, Auckland City Mission, Vision West, LinkPeople and Lifewise will be involved in the project as well. The strategy is based on the 'Housing First Concept' which originated in Canada. The concept aimed to provide enough housing for its population first, before the country addressed other issues such as addiction, mental health and anti-social behavior.

What you can do to help

There are many non-for-profit and community organisations that have formed in New Zealand to aid people and families who are struggling. Due to these organisation being non-for-profit, the rely on donates to keep their operations running. Donating money or time to these groups can greatly help the people who need their services.

Some of the groups that aid people in need include;

Affinity Services

http://www.affinityservices.co.nz/

Auckland City Mission

https://www.aucklandcitymission.org.nz/

Vision West

http://www.visionwest.org.nz/

LinkPeople

https://www.lifewise.org.nz/

Lifewise

https://www.lifewise.org.nz/

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