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Demonstration aims to address Auckland homelessness

Demonstration aims to push Auckland Council into addressing homelessness.

The homelessness crisis which is hurting thousands of New Zealand families right now is likely to get worse before it gets better. This is despite the opening of additional emergency housing units including those being run by The Salvation Army in Manurewa. This is the view of a small group of housing activists who are looking to hold Auckland Council to account for its lack of interest in addressing homelessness in tangible and practical ways.

This group is running a project called Build Up Emergency Housing and is looking to build a small relocatable emergency housing unit on spare Council land as a demonstration of what can be achieved through citizens’ concerns and action.

A spokesperson and organiser for Build Up – Alan Johnson says that ‘Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and his Auckland Council colleagues seem more interested in finding a home for the America’s Cup yacht syndicates than they are in finding homes for Aucklanders’. ‘This is an obscene mix up in priorities when our elected officials appear to be more interested in dishing our corporate welfare than in looking after struggling families. As Aucklanders we need to challenge such priorities’ he said.

‘The Build Up Emergency Housing campaign is a demonstration project which will show how we can address the homelessness crisis through innovative design and creative use of public resources including small pockets of Council land which are currently unused’, Mr Johnson says. ‘Auckland Council and its stifling bureaucracy are major impediments to addressing this crisis, They seem to see show concern for people living on the streets and in cars’, he says.

‘As ordinary citizens we can challenge this indifference by getting involved in direct action to actually build a small cottage which will be used to house a homeless person or family’, Mr Johnson says. ‘Build Up Emergency Housing believes that Auckland Council can play a vital part in our efforts to house the homeless by providing free access to vacant Council land and to permit housing developments without consent fees and connection charges’, Mr Johnson claims.

‘We don’t see Build-Up as a permanent solution to our homelessness crisis but rather a stop gap measure for perhaps up to five years’, Mr Johnson says. ‘We are interested in finding decent affordable homes for every Aucklander and our demonstration cottage is too small and basic for this’, he says. ‘But it is better than living on the streets, under a bridge or in the back of a car. We need to provide modest but warm secure housing as an alternative and this is what we are doing’.

Build-Up Emergency Housing will build a demonstration cottage on an undisclosed Council owned site over a single weekend in mid-March. Social media is being used to get people involved and to encourage them to contribute financially to the project. The cottage will be trucked off the demonstration site and given to Te Puia Marae to house a small family.

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