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Homelessness: Labour promises prevention/eradication action

Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party

The next Labour Government will take decisive action to prevent and eradicate homelessness in New Zealand, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Moana Mackey.Labour promises action on prevention and eradication of homelessness

The next Labour Government will take decisive action to prevent and eradicate homelessness in New Zealand, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Moana Mackey.

Labour’s policy for the prevention and eradication of homelessness will be launched this afternoon at the Coalition to End Homelessness (NZCEH) AGM in Hamilton.

“In 2009, I was taken on a tour of Wellington boarding houses by members of NZCEH. What I saw had a profound impact on me. In a country as fortunate and blessed as New Zealand, no one should be living in such conditions. Unfortunately the numbers living in these appalling circumstances are increasing and the Government has no plan to turn that around.

“Homelessness is often mistakenly seen as a ‘choice’. In fact it is a complex problem reflecting serious social detachment. And it is not just an issue for single men as many people believe. It also affects women, young people, victims of domestic violence, people with mental health issues, people released from prison and families experiencing financial crisis. Maori are over-represented among the homeless.

“Labour’s plan will deal with this growing issue head on. Labour will:

* Initiate a ministerial inquiry into the extent and nature of homelessness in consultation with key stakeholders, leading to an inter-departmental Homelessness Strategy with a focus on prevention and early intervention.

* Reaffirm Housing New Zealand’s role as a social housing provider.

* Ensure that one single agency has responsibility for leading policy to deal with homelessness and emergency and transitional accommodation.

* Review the provision of emergency and transitional accommodation around New Zealand and identify gaps and areas of need.

* Investigate what legislative or regulatory measures can be implemented to ensure minimum standards are enforced for boarding houses and hostels, including a mandatory register for boarding houses in New Zealand.
Moana Mackey said the cost of doing nothing was significant.

“A case study in Wellington revealed that a single homeless man cost taxpayers $200,000 a year in emergency department visits alone.

“Despite the moral and economic imperatives, the current government has shown no interest in addressing this growing problem. It blocked Labour’s proposed inquiry into homelessness at the Social Services Select Committee, and current changes at Housing New Zealand to reduce frontline staff and change their roles will make the problem worse.

“The Government’s social housing provider, which should be leading the charge to prevent and eradicate homelessness, is in reality adding to it. That speaks volumes about this government’s values.

Moana Mackey said pressures on social and affordable housing were impacting on levels of homelessness. Labour would be making announcements in these areas soon, she said.

Authorised by Moana Mackey, Parliament Buildings Wellington

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