Homelessness a government ‘failure’
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.