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Action plan for homeless people

MEDIA RELEASE

9 November 2005

Action plan for homeless people

Auckland City has developed a Homelessness Action Plan in a bid to help address gaps in services for people living on the city's streets.

The Community Development and Equity Committee this morning approved the plan, which will see the council play a greater advocacy role in the area of homelessness.

The chairperson of the committee, Councillor Cathy Casey, says the Homelessness Action Plan outlines key priorities for the council and other community agencies.

"This plan represents a major step forward in the council's approach to the issue of homelessness.

"We now have up to 300 people living on the streets and it's vital we work with social service agencies to address this matter," she says.

The Homelessness Action Plan outlines four key priorities. These include:

- oversight of homelessness and public space issues

- collaboration with other agencies to improve coordination and access to services

- advocacy to central government to improve policy and funding

- leadership and public awareness.

Dr Casey says it is not the council's role to provide services for homeless people, but it does have a role to play as a leader, advocate and facilitator for better services.

She says the council will begin by working to provide training for its own staff, such as ambassadors and parks workers, on how to deal with homeless people in public spaces.

This will include providing staff with information on where to refer homeless people for help or key services.

Dr Casey says the council will work in partnership with community agencies to ensure that better outreach services for homeless people are developed.

She says recent research commissioned by Auckland City identified gaps in services, including a lack of emergency accommodation and a lack of 24-hour support services for homeless people.

"This plan enables the council to lead a process which will hopefully see the development of a mobile outreach programme to help homeless people access health, counselling and drug and alcohol services," Dr Casey says.

Dr Casey says an audit will be done of essential services provided by the council and others, such as toilets, showers, and baggage and document storage to assess how well these meet the needs of homeless people.

Funding of $40,000 is available to implement the first phase of the Homelessness Action Plan in 2005-06. Overall, $135,000 has been set aside to fund the project over the next three years.

Ends

Note to Editors:

The most recent census by the Auckland Rough Sleepers Initiative identified up to 300 rough sleepers in Auckland's CBD. Around 85 per cent of these were male, 50 per cent were Maori or Pacific peoples, and many had mental health issues, or were the victims of domestic violence or child abuse.

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