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Conference to focus on homelessness

29 November 2007

Conference to focus on homelessness

A conference highlighting the issue of homelessness in New Zealand is being hosted by Wellington City Council at Te Papa next Monday 3 December.

The conference ‘Homelessness - Counting the Cost – the economic, social and personal costs of homelessness’ is being jointly organised by the Council and the New Zealand Coalition to End Homelessness. The aim of the conference is to increase the awareness of homelessness as a problem that affects people throughout New Zealand not just in the bigger cities and to focus on finding initiatives that will help end homelessness in New Zealand.

Wellington city Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon, who is opening the conference, says the Council is a leader in offering services to assist homeless people as part of its Homelessness Strategy and is committed to the delivery of social housing. “Homelessness had been on the Council’s agenda since 2003 following the death of a well known Wellington street person and an increase in the number of street people in a central city park.

“The Council developed a homelessness strategy and funds Project Margin (an outreach service managed by the Downtown Community Ministry to help the city’s homeless find housing). It also partly funds Catacombs, a drop-in centre for homeless people, the Salvation Army, which runs a youth transition house and the Wellington Peoples’ Centre which advocates on behalf of people on low incomes,” says Cr McKinnon.

“Another initiative the Council is involved with is the development of a wet hostel in collaboration with Capital & Coast District Health Board and Downtown Community Ministry. The wet hostel will provide accommodation for people unable to access other housing services because of their addiction to alcohol.”

Key speakers and experts on homelessness attending the conference include:

- Housing Minister Maryan Street

- Dr Guy Johnson, RMIT University Melbourne: the importance of early intervention

- Associate Professor Chris Chamberlain, RMIT University Melbourne: the definition of homelessness

- Bruce Stewart, Wellington’s Tapu Te Ranga Marae: how good governance can assist in creating turangawaewae (a place to stand)

- Clare Aspinall, chair of the Wellington Homelessness Prevention Steering Group and the Coalition to end Homelessness: development of a national strategy to prevent homelessness in New Zealand

- Sarah Lang, Committee for Auckland Limited: cost of homelessness in Auckland.

The media are invited to attend all or parts of the conference.

ENDS

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