May 19, 2023
Failure to act on homelessness treaty breach
The Waitangi Tribunal has identified housing as a treaty right, and slammed Government inaction on Māori homelessness.
The tribunal today released its stage one report on its Housing Policy and Services Kaupapa Inquiry on Māori Homelessness, covering the period from 2009 to 2021.
It found the Crown formulated a definition of homelessness in 2009 without adequate consultation with Māori, and in the seven years that followed it took no effective action to address rising levels of Māori homelessness.
It formulated a Māori housing strategy but did not implement it, and tightened access to the social housing register despite Māori reliance on social housing, as well as reducing the overall number of state houses.
It is continuing to breach the treaty through deficient consultation, failing to collect thorough homelessness data, shortcomings in inter- agency coordination, the continued failure to reform the welfare system to improve outcomes for Māori, and its lack of support for homeless rangatahi.
Because the contributors to homelessness are so varied, the Tribunal has not identified solutions to the problem in the stage one report.
Further hearings will look at broader issues that underlie Māori homelessness and housing problems more generally – including the impact of colonisation, the Māori land tenure system, and the structural drivers of poverty.