Home­less­ness a gov­ern­ment ‘fail­ure’

Central Leader - - HEALTH & BEAUTY - STAFF REPORTER

Labour has hit out at Na­tional over rates of home­less­ness, claim­ing it is fail­ing in the ba­sic duty of a gov­ern­ment.

The al­le­ga­tions come af­ter Auck­land Coun­cil’s Home­less­ness Pol­icy Project es­ti­mated 24,000 peo­ple in the re­gion did not have ad­e­quate hous­ing.

Labour hous­ing spokesman Phil Twyford said the level of home­less­ness seen in parts of the coun­try used to be some­thing only seen in the United States or Europe.

‘‘Af­ter nine years, Na­tional’s fail­ure to ad­dress the hous­ing cri­sis means we can no longer we pride our­selves on not leav­ing Ki­wis on the streets.’’

In the past few weeks, two home­less men have died on Auck­land streets.

On July 1, 57-year-old Keith John­son died on a bench at St Peter’s ceme­tery in One­hunga.

On July 11, a 59-year-old home­less man was found dead out­side Ma­nurewa Methodist Par­ish in south Auck­land.

Twyford said a coun­try where home­less were dy­ing in the streets was ‘‘not the coun­try we want’’.

Na­tional’s lead­er­ship had led to a prop­erty short­age and sky­rock­et­ing hous­ing costs, he said.

‘‘It’s time to build the houses peo­ple need.’’

Na­tional was ap­proached for com­ment but Min­is­ter Nick Smith, stand­ing in for Min­is­ter of Hous­ing New Zealand Amy Adams, was out of range and there­fore could not be con­tacted.

Auck­land Coun­cil’s Home­less­ness Pol­icy Project, re­leased last week, showed there were 20,296 peo­ple without a house in Auck­land in 2013.

Of those, 16,350 were shar­ing and couch surf­ing with oth­ers tem­po­rar­ily, 3175 were in tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion such as emer­gency hous­ing, refugee camps and board­ing houses, and 771 were sleep­ing rough.

The re­port fore­cast the to­tal fig­ure would have risen to 24,000 by 2017, given pop­u­la­tion growth data.

Auck­land City Mis­sioner Chris Far­relly said home­less peo­ple had a life ex­pectancy that was about 20 years lower than the av­er­age life ex­pectancy.

‘‘One per­son dy­ing on our streets or as a re­sult of home­less­ness is one too many.’’

Far­relly said the deaths of rough sleep­ers were due to myr­iad is­sues such as health prob­lems, poor nu­tri­tion and con­tin­ued ex­po­sure to the el­e­ments.

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