By­law costs op­posed

Auckland City Harbour News - - Front Page - By Heather McCracken

THE PRICE tag for de­vel­op­ing a by­law to force home­less peo­ple off in­ner-city streets is com­ing un­der fire.

Auck­land city mis­sioner Diane Robert­son says the $50,000 cost is ex­ces­sive when the by­law will re­late to very few peo­ple.

“From my point of view it is a sub­stan­tial amount given all the bud­get cuts to com­mu­nity ser­vices,” she says.

“It seems an enor­mous amount of money and will af­fect a very small group of peo­ple.”

Auck­land City Coun­cil of­fi­cers have pre­dicted a $50,000 cost for de­vel­op­ing a by­law to ad­dress loi­ter­ing, sleep­ing in door­ways and beg­ging.

The bud­get was to be con­firmed by the fi­nance and strat­egy com­mit­tee to­day.

City Vi­sion coun­cil­lor Cathy Casey said be­fore the meet­ing she would strongly op­pose the fund­ing.

“It’s a com­plete waste of money,” she says.

“The pub­lic spa­ces by­law has just been re­viewed and it con­tains clauses that ad­dress the is­sues of home­less­ness and beg­ging.

“All it will serve to do is crim­i­nalise home­less peo­ple.”

Com­mu­nity ser­vices com­mit­tee chair­man Paul Gold­smith says $50,000 is an es­ti­mate of de­vel­op­ment costs, but the real fig­ure could be less.

He says the first step will be for coun­cil lawyers to talk to po­lice about the fea­si­bil­ity of a by­law.

“They might say, ac­tu­ally, there are two or three ex­ist­ing by­laws that could be tweaked or that need to be dealt with more ef­fec­tively.

“Or they might say the whole thing is too dif­fi­cult.”

He says it’s too early to con­sider what the cost of im­ple­ment­ing and en­forc­ing any new by­law could be.

Mr Gold­smith says he’s had phone calls from peo­ple who say they don’t feel safe in the cen­tral city, and sup­port the is­sue be­ing ad­dressed.

“Home­less are not a group we want to de­monise, they’re a trou­bled sec­tion of so­ci­ety who can’t be left in the sit­u­a­tion they’re in,” he says.

“But it is not un­rea­son­able to put a line in the sand and say it’s not on to use Queen St as your bed­room.”

The mea­sure is one part of the coun­cil’s ap­proach to home­less­ness, which in­cludes spending $150,000 on the Home­less Action Plan over the next three years.

The plan is a joint ap­proach with so­cial agen­cies in­clud­ing the city mis­sion, Life­wise and the Sal­va­tion Army.

The re­vised plan in­cludes a new fo­cus on peo­ple who of­ten come be­fore the courts, and mov­ing peo­ple into longterm ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Tell us what you think. Is a by­law the best way to deal with the city’s home­less? Email edcl@snl.co.nz.

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