Project to help more home­less

Manukau Courier - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - CHRIS HARROWELL

Work to help South Auck­land’s rough sleep­ers is step­ping up.

The Ma­nurewa Lo­cal Board has formed a steer­ing group in an ef­fort to as­sist such peo­ple get off the streets and into hous­ing.

It in­cludes staff from var­i­ous Govern­ment agen­cies and Auck­land Council.

In­volved also are town cen­tre man­ager Neil Punja, Coun­ties Manukau Cen­tral po­lice area com­man­der Mark Bene­field, LinkPeo­ple ser­vice and re­la­tion­ship man­ager Rami Al­ru­daini, and Wiri Li­cens­ing Trust chair­man Alan John­son.

The lo­cal board’s ef­forts fol­low the death of rough sleeper Haami Manahi, 59, whose body was found on steps at the back of Ma­nurewa Methodist Par­ish on July 11.

Board chair­woman An­gela Dal­ton says she and her col­leagues are not ex­perts on home­less­ness, but they’re de­ter­mined to take a lead­er­ship role.

‘‘What we recog­nised is we all have a part to play. We want our voice to be heard.’’

Dal­ton has met with Julie Nelson, who leads the Hous­ing First Auck­land ini­tia­tive and is joint chief ex­ec­u­tive of men­tal health and well­be­ing provider Wise Group.

The Hous­ing First model works on the be­lief it’s eas­ier for home­less peo­ple to have any per­sonal is­sues ad­dressed once they have some­where to live.

Nelson also leads The Peo­ple’s Project in Hamil­ton, which Wise Group es­tab­lished to end chronic home­less­ness in that city by 2016.

It em­ploys staff who ad­vo­cate for lo­cal rough sleep­ers and help them to ac­cess ser­vices and sup­port they need to get off the streets.

Dal­ton says she would like to see some­thing sim­i­lar es­tab­lished in her com­mu­nity.

‘‘Hamil­ton had 80 home­less peo­ple and they’ve all been housed,’’ she says.

‘‘I said to them [the Min­istry of So­cial Devel­op­ment] the board wants them around our steer­ing group ta­ble and we want some­thing like The Peo­ple’s Project in Ma­nurewa.’’

There’s about 20 reg­u­lar rough sleep­ers in the Ma­nurewa Town Cen­tre, Dal­ton says.

She’s iden­ti­fied a lo­cal church as a pos­si­ble lo­ca­tion for The Peo­ple’s Project to be set up.

The board may help fund its op­er­a­tion, Dal­ton says.

‘‘We’re com­mit­ted. If it comes down to pay­ing rent [for the space], we’d look at it.’’

Work is on­go­ing to help rough sleep­ers such as Haami Manahi, who was found dead on steps at the back of a church.

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