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Street: Pathways out of Homelessness Programme

Hon Maryan Street
Minister for Housing

10 April, 2008
Speech
Embargoed until 6.40pm delivery

Launch of new Pathways out of Homelessness Programme

Notes for speech delivered by Housing Minister Maryan Speech at Methodist Mission Northern launch, Auckland Town Hall.


My first public speaking engagement as Minister of Housing was at the 2007 National Homelessness Conference. It was the perfect platform to recognise that the issue of homeless people and homelessness is bigger than housing alone.

To this end I need to pay tribute to non-government organisations working in partnership with government and also with each other. Effective partnerships between community groups, local and central government, and innovative approaches, are essential for providing emergency housing solutions and resolving homelessness.

Members of the community who are homeless have complex needs and are often caught up in a cycle of homelessness, unable to sustain housing unless the cause of their homelessness is addressed.

They may live in camping grounds and may have been tenants evicted by public or private landlords. Housing and social services are required to provide stability and skills for these people to move to sustainable housing.

I am here tonight to celebrate two events: the launch of a new face for one of Auckland’s oldest and most respected social service charities, and also the launch of a new service within Methodist Mission Northern’s existing work with homeless people in Auckland.

I haven’t been told too many details about the new service, as John McCarthy, the Methodist Mission Northern’s Community Services General Manager will reveal all shortly. But what I have been told is the programme recognises that support services are fundamental to achieving the pathway out of homelessness.
I understand there are already three partners signed up: the Auckland District Health Board’s Taylor Centre, Community Alcohol and Drugs Services and Odyssey House.

This demonstration of inter-agency collaboration is admirable and the Methodist Mission Northern needs to be commended for its initiative to provide a seamless connection of services.

With over 157 years of looking after children, families, older people, the homeless, the isolated and the marginalised, it is well-qualified to know how best to tackle the challenges of homelessness.

The challenge for the Government is to ensure we work closely with all agencies and continue to foster effective partnerships.

The Housing Innovation Fund is a good example of partnership. The Fund was set up to assist local government and community agencies to provide good quality affordable housing around New Zealand, and it has been a huge success. In fact it has revealed some of the scope of the need in our communities by virtue of it being over-subscribed.

The Corporation’s Community Group Housing team works with community groups and iwi to ensure they gain access to the most appropriate housing, and meet the needs of people requiring quality, accessible housing, including people experiencing homelessness. We provide 1600 houses for these purposes.

The Corporation also assists local authorities through its Local Government Fund to address social housing needs in their areas.

All this is in addition to our state housing network which provides an affordable rental home to more than 200,000 New Zealanders and more than 400 community groups.

More than 90 percent of Housing New Zealand’s 68,000 tenants are on a state subsidised income related rent. But, despite what the Government has done to assist with homelessness, we acknowledge that there are still gaps in services.

A particularly challenging area for the Government is emergency housing. People staying in emergency housing often have complex needs that require intensive support services, and there are not enough emergency housing providers, particularly for families.

I have asked, together with the Minister of Social Development, Housing New Zealand Corporation and Ministry of Social Development staff to report back to us by the end of this month on emergency housing funding.

This will include options to improve current funding arrangements for emergency housing, clarifying and defining the roles of agencies involved in emergency housing, and further options for an integrated, cross-government response to homelessness.

The Corporation has been seeking the views of community groups on this issue, including Methodist Mission Northern.

To help get an accurate picture of housing needs, we need to know how many homeless people there are in New Zealand, over time. The answer to this question requires an agreed definition.

There is currently work being done across government agencies, and led by Statistics New Zealand, the Ministry of Social Development and Housing New Zealand Corporation, with a view to possibly using Census data to measure homelessness.

I would like to challenge all agencies involved in working with homeless people to follow the lead of Methodist Mission Northern, and marry resources and skills to provide a seamless connection of services.


Thank you again for inviting me to the launch and enjoy the rest of the evening.


ENDS

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