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Meeting called to address homeless issue

Meeting called to address homeless issue

A meeting to discuss the plight of homelessness will be held at the Auckland City Council at 2pm on Friday 18 June. The meeting, organised by of the Law and Order Committee chairperson, Councillor Noelene Raffills and Mayor Hon John Banks, will be attended by agencies and groups which have a stake in the issue.

The meeting follows a recent British-Government sponsored visit by Mr Banks to the UK where he studied an array of urban social problems, including homelessness.

Joining the Mayor, Councillor Raffills and senior council officers will be representatives from the Auckland City Mission, Baptist Tabernacle, Department of Work and Income, Elim Church, Heart of the City, Housing New Zealand Corporation, Ministry of Social Development, New Zealand Police and Salvation Army.

“I was hugely impressed with the innovative tools London is providing to break the cycle of homelessness. London has substantially come to grips with the numbers of homeless. Sadly, Auckland has yet to,” said Mr Banks.

A police report on ‘Homelessness in Auckland’ presented to the Law and Order Committee on 18 March said the Auckland City Mission has over 400 people on their books who classify themselves as homeless. According to St Mungo’s outreach workers the Mayor spoke with during his study trip, London today has less than 1,000.

“London has an attitude that the homeless are worthy of support and are not going to be exploited. We have to do the same. This council is not going to leave these vulnerable people unattended and so we’re taking some leadership on this.

“The churches and social agencies in Auckland do some great work but it is time for an audit on how we can improve our approach and see what gaps need to be filled.

“It is not about telling the homeless to get a job. That has never worked. Our approach has got to be a lot more sophisticated than that,” said Mr Banks.

Councillor Raffills said key social agencies and the council need to pro-actively develop some influential policy to realistically help the city’s homeless.

“Auckland City already works closely with the police on the issue and actively supports the City Mission. Just one example of council support is our mid-winter swim on 4 July, with proceeds to help the City Mission feed and house the homeless.

“Friday’s meeting takes the council’s involvement in the important issue of homelessness another step further,” said Councillor Raffills.

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