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Council takes a closer look at homelessness in the city

Hutt City Council is about to launch a survey as part of its work to better understand homelessness in the city.

The survey is part of a Council investigation into the nature of homelessness and the work being done to relieve homelessness in Lower Hutt. The research will form a basis for discussions on Council’s role in supporting work currently being done to assist homeless people and families.

Council Divisional Manager Strategy and Planning, Wendy Moore, says accurately measuring homelessness and its effects on people and families is notoriously difficult.

“But it is crucial to develop as detailed picture as possible, not just to gain a fuller understanding of the plight and pressures on families and individuals who are homeless, but also to help us understand how pressures in the housing market are impacting on people in our communities,” she says.

“What is clear is that our low-income communities are the ones most likely to experience housing pressures and the chilling prospect of homelessness.”

A recent Government-commissioned report, A Stocktake of New Zealand’s Housing,noted that rent increases in New Zealand’s main centres rose faster than incomes.

A snapshot included in the report shows average rents for a three bedroom house in Naenae South rose 12.4 per cent between the fourth quarters of 2016 and 2017. The national average increase for this period was 5.5 per cent.

Emerge Aotearoa supports homeless people and families in the Wellington region and those facing other housing pressures. Its National Housing Manager, Hope Simonsen, welcomes Council’s initiative.

She says the causes of homelessness are many, complex and inter-related. They include insufficient income, family breakdown, poor physical and mental health and especially the lack of suitable and affordable housing.

“There can be terrible costs to families in emotional suffering, social isolation, deteriorating health and lost opportunities and future prospects, especially for the children,” she says.

“But homelessness also caries great financial costs to all of us nationally and locally, including the direct costs of providing temporary housing to homeless families through to the significant long-term costs of greater spending on health, welfare and education.”

Homelessness is defined as living situations where people have no other options to access safe and secure housing. They include circumstances where people are sleeping rough or in vehicles, living in night shelters, refuges, or other temporary accommodation, and where people are sharing housing with another household or living in housing that is uninhabitable.

Council’s research includes discussions with social service agencies and people who are homeless and gathering data on housing and housing need.

The survey is available at: www.surveymonkey.com/r/LHhomeless and will run from Tuesday 20 February to Tuesday 13 March 2018.

Print copies of the survey are available to social service agencies for their clients to complete.

© Scoop Media

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