How has it come this? 6 years under John Key’s watch, and the underbelly of the “rockstar economy” still remains in the shadows: too far from the front and centre of media and the government’s attention. Too many stories of homelessness are still surfacing.
From the content presented in an article from a local east Auckland newspaper this morning, it looks like the latest stories, are only the tip on the iceberg: “Auckland’s hidden homeless” by Lauren Priestley.
People are sleeping in cars, garages or “couch surfing” at family and friends’ houses all over Auckland because they have nowhere else to go.
And the number of hidden homeless people is rising, housing providers say.
One young mother who spoke to the East & Bays Courier is living in emergency housing provided by Island Child Charitable Trust in Pt England with her two-month-old daughter.
Her landlord decided to sell her flat only a day after she moved in and the woman moved from couch to couch for about four months.
The 28-year-old has no family to support her and turned to Island Child six months ago when she ran out of options.
This is just one of many: one who decided to tell her tale. But the numbers of homeless, hidden from the view of most of middle income New Zealanders, is continuing to grow as reported by several agencies that deal with the homeless. Island Child managing director Danielle Bergin says that she,
has helped people who’ve been sleeping in cars at Pt England Reserve and families who’ve been living in garages.
An Auckland Council report this year shows about 15,000 people in Auckland are “severely housing deprived”.
Lifewise service manager Corie Haddock says the majority of those are unseen.
The number of people coming to the organisation has increased by about 80 per cent in the past year alone, he says.
A growing trend is people sleeping in cars in parking lots with groups of 20 to 30 vehicles at a time, he says.
A spokesperson for Auckland Action Against Poverty says many homeless people are extremely “vulnerable”. For instance, some people with serious illnesses are losing benefits because of welfare reforms.
There are similar stories of homelessness in Christchurch. This Press article tries to put a positive spin on it, focusing on something positive being done for the homeless. But within the article, is this:
Mary wakes up every hour to check on her surroundings, and sleeps with her shoes on so she can “get up and go”, should anything untoward happen.
The faces of the homeless in the city were now much younger, with runaways and others unable to afford rents, she said.
And homelessness and attempts to hide it, is not just a problem in Auckland and Christchurch. This recent story from Hamilton shows how attempts are made to maintain a low visibility of those with nowhere safe and secure to live:
Hamilton City Council has declined the Hamilton Homeless group’s application to serve food in Garden Place.
However, the council declined this to protect the public from any nuisance, protect and maintain public health and safety, and minimise the potential for offensive behaviour in public places.
What exactly is this “offensive behaviour” that the public need to be protected against? Surely the most offensive behaviour comes from those in power who have allowed homelessness to continuing growing, while they crow about how well New Zealand’s economy is doing?!
Vote for all the people this election!
Mana Party Housing Policy (scroll down to find it).
Good to see an upcoming event to highlight the housing crisis, supported by “influential Aucklanders”.
On the 3rd of July 2014, influential Aucklanders will take a public stand against homelessness at the annual Lifewise Big Sleepout. Stripped of their creature comforts, exposed to the elements and given first hand insight into what it means to ‘sleep rough’, they will have little more than a sleeping bag, pillow and a sheet of cardboard. It’s a no-holds barred approach to exposing what is often an invisible issue.
I will vote for an increase in the state housing supply, and measures that will stop rentiers from profiteering from the misery of others.
Vote for a fair, just, inclusive and democratic New Zealand!