June 01, 2018
Warmer welcome for homeless in Rotorua
Rotorua is gearing up for an influx of homeless over the winter by asking them what might be done to make their situations less perilous.
Rotorua Lakes Council kaiwhakahaere Maori Gina Rangi says a recent night survey found 48 rough sleepers, the majority Maori, and there are also a large number of people in temporary or insecure accommodation as the region grapples with rising housing cosats.
She says the city is attractive because geothermal activity keeps some outside areas warm.
The council is looking for a venue where the homeless can gather to eat, stay dry and have access to toilets, showers and a place to store their belongings.
"What the community is asking for is real simple things. When they are asleep at night in parks not doing any harm, don't wake us up and move us on. That's compassion, just being kinder to people. So we've had a good talk with our staff and polic and security people around town and said focus on criminal activity, focus on keeping people safe if they are unwell, but don't move people on if they're being harmless," Ms Rangi says.
The council wants government funding for a Housing First model to address chronic homelessness.
Housing Minister Phil Twyford says 227 long-term homeless people in Auckland have been permanently housed over the past year under the Housing First programme.
He says having a permanent home gives people the safe and stable environment they need to address issues which have led to their homelessness such as mental health issues and substance abuse.
The Government allocated $63 million in the Budget to expand and sustain Housing First services for more than 1450 households over the next four years.
Some $20 million is for services to help more than 900 Housing First households in Auckland, Christchurch, Tauranga, Wellington and the Hutt Valley, with the other $43 million to expand the programme to a further 550 households in other regions.
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