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.