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Homeless can feel unsafe too

Homeless can feel unsafe too

The 2016/17 Police Citizen Satisfaction Survey shows a decrease in people's sense of public safety at night in cities, town centres, and local neighbourhoods, which some have linked to increased homelessness in the Auckland city centre. Lifewise, an organisation working to house homeless people, points out that people experiencing homelessness also feel unsafe in the city centre and are themselves victims of assault more frequently than many people would realise.

“We need to connect homelessness with its root causes,” says Lifewise CE Moira Lawler. “That means an open conversation about the link between homelessness and our housing crisis and the link between homelessness and family poverty.”

According to Lawler, there is little evidence that homeless people present significant actual threat to the public. “Our actual safety and our perception of safety are two different things. Homeless people are living the consequence of an unequal society. That makes most of us feel concerned and uncomfortable, and hopefully, determined to see effective action. This is a good thing.”

Lifewise in collaboration with the Auckland City Mission, is part of the Housing First Auckland programme, working together with rough sleepers in Auckland City. The programme is already showing results, with 26 people been housed in the city centre alone. (Auckland-wide results available here: https://www.housingfirst.co.nz/results.)

“We have been funded to provide housing 60 people, however there are over 300 people in the city centre who need housing. We are hoping to get additional government expand our numbers next year,” says Lawler.

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