Bylaw costs opposed
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.