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Housing should not depend on charity – but this is an emergency

Written By: - Date published: 8:15 am, May 30th, 2016 - 45 comments
Categories: accountability, housing, national - Tags: , , ,

John Key’s glib advice to the homeless is to go and see WINZ. This is a WINZ that (while no doubt containing caring individuals, as an institution) has been deliberately set up to be as slow, difficult and unpleasant to access as possible, and will likely just load you up with impossible debt for an overpriced motel. Useless.

Putting the government to shame, Te Puea Marae in Mangere has stepped up, and so has the community around them:

Help for homeless pours in at marae

Te Puea Marae in Mangere has established a support programme, alongside social agencies, to help those sleeping in cars and garages and on the street. Since the programme started just last week, the marae has had a lot of support from an array of services.

Hurimoana Dennis, who chairs the marae board, said the support had been overwhelming, but work still needed to be done. “We’re looking quite wide and far in terms of what accommodation looks like. For a lot of people it looks like a house, but actually for the winter period, for this kaupapa perhaps, it could look like some spare bedrooms. “We’re calling on universities, colleges and others – if you’ ve got spare dormitories and hostels available.”

He said the marae was still looking for volunteers to help with cooking kai and sorting out logistics with donations, and for qualified social workers who could do assessments. Mr Dennis said a volunteer roster would start next week, and the marae was also calling for help with setting up an 0800 number. He said currently they were using their own phones and could not keep up with the demand.

“But through winter time we think people can’t be living in cars and under bridges and carports, this is New Zealand 2016, I mean, come on.”

The programme will welcome and support whānau who have nowhere to live during the winter months. The marae is open for donations and support from 8am to 7pm. Their Facebook page has up-to-date information about what is happening at the marae and the services and support they are after.

Bravo to Te Puea Marae and their supporters – you are doing what needs to be done – and you are putting the government to shame.

Having said that I do have a reservation. Housing the homeless is the job of the state, a duty for any society that calls itself ethical. In practice when the state fails, as it is obviously failing in NZ, charitable efforts like this relieve suffering. But they also relieve pressure on the government, who can continue to do too little in the hopes that charity will pick up the slack.

Ok that’s a pretty abstract concern in the face of homeless, cold families. So I say again, bravo and thanks to Te Puea Marae for stepping up.

45 comments on “Housing should not depend on charity – but this is an emergency”

  1. Sabine 1

    ahh the conservative idea that the poor should go to charities for hand outs.

    mission accomplished. Grover Northquist and his idea of creating a government so small that it can be drowned in a bath is coming to fruition. Cause only MP’s and their cronies need government to prosper. 🙂

    • greywarshark 1.1

      Yes government cronies like to fund honest government. That is one that paves the way for them to get whatever they asked Santa for and then slipped an IOU in a plain brown wrapper into his santa bag. I guess they don’t sit on Santa’s knee and ask but all sit at a round table with agendas to work through followed by a few bevvies for self congratulation at reaching consensus.

      And how wonderful to have a never-ending flow of money that has to be paid from The People to whoever is lording it over them. What more could you want. The people are now subsidising government to act for its own benefit, not theirs, and they go on feeding it like a cuckoo that has rolled out the greywarbler’s eggs and swallows all the food still given by the dedicated, nurturing little birds.
      edited

    • Chris 1.2

      Yes, plays into neo-liberal agenda. Government’s already funding charities to provide core services. IHC has become a general housing provider for low income people for fuck’s sake!! Things are way out of control. Expect more. The pressure’s getting so high on government expect more stupid responses like shipping the poor out of cities, leasing motels – you name it Brainless Bennett and her idiot mates will do it. Bring out the popcorn.

  2. ianmac 2

    In an interview they said they had asked Work and Income for financial support but this was refused. You see that anything outside the strict cumbersome “rules” is rejected by W&I.

    • Sabine 2.1

      Winz is supposed to reject any and all government hand outs to undeserving people.
      Now if these guys would be people that could give our current National led government a big ‘donation’ for ‘services rendered’ that would be somehting else….they of course would be very deserving of Government Handouts.
      Its just the poor, the working poor, the soon to be working poor that are not to get anything, cause reasons.

  3. vto 3

    What on earth do people do who have no money, food or shelter and Winz says “no” to?????

    What do they do?

    How do they eat?

    How do they keep warm at night?

    • Sabine 3.1

      they don’t eat.
      they try to find a public toilet for a wash and some toilet paper. (yes, they may roll a bit of – just in case)
      they don’t stay warm at night, they try to find something sheltered from wind and rain, but staying warm in most cases is not going to happen, unless they may still have a car to stay in – and even that at around 3 in the mornings it gets cold. Very cold.

      Next morning maybe they go to a food bank, or a soup kitchen or maybe they arrive at a friends for a coffee…..or they go to queenstreet and hope to beg for some money, and maybe with that money they buy a bit of food and some weed. smoking a bit of weed or drinking some cheap piss will make the misery a bit easier this coming up night.
      Maybe they have survival sex with some random dude so they get to stay indoors for a night – that applies to young ones and affects all genders.
      Maybe they break into some empty building. Maybe they commit a petty crime to get locked up.

      • vto 3.1.1

        And the village chief lets this happen in his village??

        • Sabine 3.1.1.1

          yes.

          • vto 3.1.1.1.1

            Lordy, what a poorly chief !

            What about the rest of the villagers? Do they just turn a blind eye? Are they in thrall to the chief? Or some other hook? Do they not see that the village will soon fail with that kind of setup?

            • Sabine 3.1.1.1.1.1

              Well it depends, are you making money of homeless people? Then you might consider the Chief to be an outstanding type of guy.

              As for the villagers?
              there are those that make money of homeless people – see above
              there are those that want to be like the chief – so they will try to be like the chief
              there are those that are too busy being like the chief – so they don’t see that the chief is a fraud until to late or they themselves loose out and fall into the category of bludger
              then there are those that against against the chief, and don’t want to be like the chief – they are laughed out and at, cause why support bludger
              then there are those that are against the chief, are afraid of the chief, and hope to god and dog that they too will not be made homeless by someone to enrich the chief, knowing full well that homelessness is closer then homeowner ship.

              that should sum up Auckland and any other place on this planet where people are homeless among empty houses and buildings.

    • Wensleydale 3.2

      They huddle in a shop doorway on Queen Street, until the police move them along because some Parnell socialite has complained about beggars soiling their pristine streets with their grubby, lice-ridden carcasses, and it’s really lowering the tone of the neighbourhood.

      Auckland — The Super City (unless you’re poor and homeless, in which case you can crawl into a hole and die)

  4. Your Average Voter 4

    I applaud everyone involved in this initiative. Communities helping themselves is always great to see.
    But I would have thought that the adult people they are helping (the homeless) would be the volunteers to help with the cooking, cleaning, washing and maintenance of the marae. I would have also thought that would apply to some of the older children to help install a sense of family, communal living and community as well as self reliance. Self help if you like.
    Perhaps the working homeless and those on a Benefit could also help out financially as well giving what would be considered an affordable rent or board to the marae so they don’t have to carry the financial burden.

    • The New Student 4.1

      Yes what you described is marae living. Everyone chips in and I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t. But you still need people who can co-ordinate and lead these tasks (the aunties usually). You can’t just throw someone into the kitchen and tell them to come up with dinner for 50 people.

      • Your Average Voter 4.1.1

        Thanks for that. Good to know. I thought that would be the case.

        It’s a pity that that side of things is not expressed in the article. It would help show things in a more positive light instead of all the negativity that surrounds these social issues on both sides of the debate.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.2

      Communities helping themselves is always great to see.

      Yeah, that’s why we invented government and taxes.

  5. The New Student 5

    Finally, the community spirit has fully awakened. Charity does not require a Government mandate. Too often the burden falls on the few bleeding hearts while the rest of society carries on its blind merry way. Faith in humanity partly restored.

    • Richardrawshark 5.1

      Finally community spirit …

      Listen mate, some of us older ones remember a time when we all chipped in, at school at farms, we always banded together.

      Since the 70’s that’s changed? In fact since the 70’s NZ has completely changed I can’t even recognize it.

      No community group should have to pick up the pieces of an ideology driven disaster on NZ’s social housing policy.

      • Your Average Voter 5.1.1

        I would disagree.
        School fairs, school boards of trustees, church groups, welfare leagues, Maori wardens, marae’ she, fund raisers of every description, student armies, etc, etc. all charitable work carried out by volunteers that muck in and help out. Often with little thanks or recognition.

        The community response to the Christchurch earthquake was amazing.

        Sometimes we buy into the doom and gloom too much and can’t see the good right under our own noses.

        • weka 5.1.1.1

          Yeah we had that conversation yesterday and the general consensus was that Key’s govt is the equivalent of a big earthquake in terms of damage done. The difference is that the quakes are unavoidable. Whatever the fuck our govt is, you can’t say there wasn’t a choice.

          • Your Average Voter 5.1.1.1.1

            This housing/homeless problem has been around for a very long time. Successive governments both red and blue have turned a blind eye to it. And here we are.

            I’m sure that the Nats would love nothing better than to fix it immediately. But the reality is they can’t. Under a Labour/Green government the problem will still exist. No one has the magic wand. It’s taken generations to get to this and it’s going to take generations to get out of it. If ever!!

            The whole problem is incredibly complex. Lack of houses is just the tip of the iceberg and the most visible problem. Other issues such as mental illness, unaffordable family sizes, drug and alcohol addiction, educational aspirations, intergenerational dysfunctional families, low self esteem, illiteracy, lack of unskilled jobs, broken communities, etc, etc.

            Until these issues are addressed we will always have the same problems regardless of the government of the day.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1.1.1.1.1

              The whole problem is incredibly complex. Lack of houses is just the tip of the iceberg and the most visible problem. Other issues such as mental illness, unaffordable family sizes, drug and alcohol addiction, educational aspirations, intergenerational dysfunctional families, low self esteem, illiteracy, lack of unskilled jobs, broken communities, etc, etc.

              No wonder you’ve got no clue how to fix the problem: you can’t even acknowledge the clueless economic policies at its heart. That and the utter gutter levels of competence and compassion displayed by National Party dupes.

              Why? It’s incredibly complex, and boils down to two things: you’re stupid and greedy.

            • weka 5.1.1.1.1.2

              “The whole problem is incredibly complex. Lack of houses is just the tip of the iceberg and the most visible problem. Other issues such as mental illness, unaffordable family sizes, drug and alcohol addiction, educational aspirations, intergenerational dysfunctional families, low self esteem, illiteracy, lack of unskilled jobs, broken communities, etc, etc.

              Until these issues are addressed we will always have the same problems regardless of the government of the day.”

              Yeah, nah. None of that matters when you simply don’t have enough houses available (note, we have enough houses in NZ to house everyone). Same thing with unemployment. It’s cruel to talk about self-esteem and life choices when we know that the govt needs there to be a certain level of unemployment to run the economy in a neoliberal fashion.

              We have lots of choices at this point as a nation, including ones that solve homelessness reasonably quickly. Not overnight, but I think Te Puea Marae just demonstrated how fast we could take people in if we really wanted to. Everything else is just an excuse.

              • Sacha

                Not tricky for any govt that cares – and yes, the last two have turned a blind eye.

                1) Build. Houses. Now.
                2) Regulate to fix the financial/tax settings which encourage people to put money into housing rather than productive business.
                3) Reassure existing home-owners that your measures will slowly deflate the bubble they’ve bought into/are caught up in.

                Get on with it.

            • Richardrawshark 5.1.1.1.1.3

              “This housing/homeless problem has been around for a very long time. Successive governments both red and blue have turned a blind eye to it. And here we are.”

              Negative, I was a homeless person in my late and early 20’s yes we had a homeless problem but do not think it was anything at all like what’s happening now. I find that reply offensive and a denial approach to a problem.

              Apart from mental health and addiction and home/domestic abuse we now have a massive layer added of people who cannot afford a place or find one with money. We have workers on minimum wages, and we don’t have the rooms or homes.

              I can absolutely assure you that almost all of the homelessness in the past, homes were available but those homeless turned them down or to ill with addictions or mental health issues to look. Others just liked the camaraderie.

              Next you’ll be saying it’s the councils fault.

  6. Your Average Voter 6

    You’re right OAB, I have no idea how to fix the problem. It’s way above my pay grade. 😀
    Insulting me by saying I’m stupid and greedy won’t fix it either. You know nothing about me so please leave out the insults as they are meaningless and a bit silly.

    Yes, economic policies play their part both good and bad. It’s all part of the mix. As I said, this all started a very long time ago and is now landed at the feet of a Nat government. But they are not solely to blame. Previous governments of the whole colour spectrum have created it.

    One thing I have learnt in life is that you cannot fix a problem without first identifying what the real problem is. They are often multi layered and where people are involved become instantly complex.

    Shaking your fists at politicians doesn’t the really solve the problem either. But it can be therapeutic some days 😀

    • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1

      You listed a litany of symptoms of poverty then pretended they cause poverty. We know what the problem is. One of the ways to deny it is to pretend that we need to study it more closely before we can act.

      I’ve had a gutsful of compassionless bullshit of that flavour. The Left has proposed a raft of policies to address the issue. If this shit government is too vile and incompetent to implement them then they should get out of the way.

      Right wing trash have opposed everything from emancipation to universal suffrage, from the welfare state to human rights. You employ their rhetoric. Why is that?

      • Tom 6.1.1

        The more harm, the closer to the end -If humans don’t exist, they don’t suffer.

        Men would shoot their horses before leaving Europe at the end of WW2 – because they were to suffer.

        I understand that.

      • Your Average Voter 6.1.2

        I’m not sure what “their rhetoric” is. I have my own thoughts and opinions.

        And I agree with you. We have libraries full of studies on these matters and the last thing we need is yet more studies. It is action that is required.

        I’m not pretending the issues I outlined cause poverty……….they do cause poverty. They aren’t the only causes by a long shot.

        Mental health issues (not all) can cause poverty and homelessness. Something I have had personal experience of with a family member.

        Drug and alcohol addiction can cause poverty and homelessness. Something I have witnessed happening to a couple of people I have known and worked with.

        Unaffordable family sizes can cause poverty and lead to homelessness. If you are on a benefit or low wages with 6 kids then you will be financially poor. Having adult children of my own I know just how much money it takes to raise and look after them. It is a relentless grind on the finances.

        Lack of self esteem, dysfunctional families, etc, etc. all can cause intergenerational poverty and homelessness. If people drag their kids up and give them negative role modelling then how do we expect them to become functional adults.

        And yes, bad government policies can also cause poverty. Something all governments have done.

        • weka 6.1.2.1

          “Mental health issues (not all) can cause poverty and homelessness. Something I have had personal experience of with a family member.”

          Usually only if the person with the mental health issues lives in a society that doesn’t look after vulnerable people.

          Benefit rates and policies are a really easy way to understand this. At the moment there are whole lot of people how can’t work full time or at all due to mental health issues. They are forced to live on a rate that is deliberately set below what is liveable, and too many of them are on Job Seeker instead of Supported Living Payment.

          Job Seeker means they are subject to all sorts of stresses and triggers for decline in their health instead of being on SLP where they can then focus on the care that they need to stay more healthy. That one thing alone is a huge driver of mental health problems in NZ and it is completely and utterly caused by government policy.

          The fact that they don’t have enough to live on is another big factor, and is also just out and out mismanagement from the govt.

          I’m not suggesting that all those people would get better with more money. I’m saying that without adequate money and support they’re being pushed into crisis and ill health.

        • b waghorn 6.1.2.2

          “It is action that is required.”

          The first action should be is for dumb as fuck right wingers to comprehend that one or two houses is enough , a simple efficient car is all you need,
          Having millions hidden here and there and doing every thing possible to avoid tax makes things worse.
          Their is no need for anyone on this planet to earn more than $200 k a year and that money is just the oil that should lubricate society.

          People that are struggling more than likely will have low self esteem, people with low self esteem make poor decisions.

          Making sure that kids get the best education possible would make the biggest difference to a society long term.

          • Colonial Viper 6.1.2.2.1

            That’s not the economic system we live in. The banks have generated a huge flood of money, and that money constantly seeks investment assets from which to get a good return on investment.

          • dave 6.1.2.2.2

            b waghorn +100 i would add get rid of this government then take back every single cent these corrupt bastards stole including the assets and bankrupt the speculator’s

        • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1.2.3

          I don’t suppose there’s any chance of you paying attention to what I said a second time when you failed the first, and here goes anyway: you are confusing the symptoms of poverty and inequality with the causes. By an amazing “coincidence”, “your” “opinions” coincide precisely with self-aggrandising right wing hate speech. Shame on you.

          You don’t agree with me: you have to demonstrate that you understand what I’m saying first.

          • Your Average Voter 6.1.2.3.1

            Weka…….in our case it wasn’t an uncaring society or government policy. It was the hubris of health professionals not listening to the family. Unfortunately a story we hear to often these days. But it had a good outcome. It just took a long time and quite a bit of grief to reach it.

            B wag horn….. I agree with you 100% about education. That really is the key.

            OAB……I don’t have to demonstrate anything to you. I heard and understood you the first time and gave my answer accordingly. Perhaps it is you that doesn’t understand my answers.

            Symptom or cause? A bit like the chicken and the egg. Which comes first? I suspect a bit of both.

            So my opinions are the same as self aggrandising right wing hate speech…….good grief. 🙄

            • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1.2.3.1.1

              In order to agree with me you first have to understand what I’m saying. I don’t expect you to do that any time soon.

              Your “answers” don’t answer anything, they simply demonstrate that you are either ignorant or prejudiced, and most likely, both: this isn’t a “chicken & egg” situation. To illustrate the point, twice as many people are defined as unemployed now than in 2007, and the number of long-term unemployed has mushroomed. “Your” “opinions” would have us believe that’s because they suddenly decided to have far too many children, or got into drugs, or developed mental health issues.

              Meanwhile, on Earth, the causes of, and solutions to, poverty and inequality, are well understood paths well trodden by everyone other than right wing dupes. You parrot the hate speech – fatuous drivel you rote-learned: poverty comes from bad choices, inherited wealth comes from good choices. It’s feeble, and given the level of what Treasury charmingly terms “morbidity with a social gradient”, utterly inexcusable.

              There is no excuse for you any more. Get out of the way.

  7. BaBa 7

    I seem to remember stories of woefully resourced settlers kept from starvation by local Maori who then, within a few years, were stripped of their land and means of support for their effort.The irony drips but yeah Bravo to this Marae and all the struggling support networks out there on the ground doing what they can to mop up the right wing bankster induced mess.

  8. Richardrawshark 8

    Why is everyone commenting about mental health etc homelessness. Which has always been an issue, and not addressing the reason for todays massive explosion of people living rough who work. Those who just cannot find affordable accommodation.

    That the issue of affordability and availability is probably more likely due to the mass influx of people heading to Auckland from regions for work promoted by the government with a 3k subsidy whilst importing 64000 migrants a year at the same time. Oh and not controlling the housing market as well.

    Come on people focus on the problem. Your appearing to get side tracked IMHO.

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      There’s no achievable building programme which can provide affordable accommodation to 1/3 of NZ’s population squeezed inside 0.3% of its land area.

      The average income earner is on $60K pa in Auckland. A large majority of workers in Auckland make less than that.

      How are you going to provide affordable housing for these people which isn’t a 55m2 Hong Kong style apartment?

      • Craig H 8.1.1

        Build it and rent it at 25% income, or sell it at a loss with the government having the first right of purchase at the original purchase price.

      • Ch-ch Chiquita 8.1.2

        CV – a serious question if you don’t mind answering – on RNZ John Key said the problem in Auckland is that cost of land is very high saying a section that cost $150k in Christchurch will be $450k in Auckland (never mind you will struggle to find a section in Christchurch that cost $150k that will not require massive investment in strengthening in order to build a stable house). Why can’t the crown decide to give away with this whole buying a section thing, declare all land belong to the crown and if you want to build a house you get a 99 year lease on the section. It will allow building affordable houses, people will invest in upgrading and maintaining the houses as otherwise they will not have any value when you want to sell the house.

  9. Venezia 9

    Tim Watkins article on the Nat’s failure on housing is refreshing to see. They haven’t a clue because housing low income people does not fit their neoliberal agenda. Selling off state houses, claiming to be building lots of new “affordable” homes ( when in fact they have dragged their feet for too long), identifying special housing areas so developers can fast track consents, then sit on the land until they can make a greater profit – that’s the neoliberal way. This crisis won’t go away. And it is not just in Auckland. Te Puea marae has put the government to shame. Now they need to cough up for the costs to the marae, as well as acting promptly to increase housing for people in need. Do something extraordinary. Show some leadership for a change.

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