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Advocates Condemn Youth Housing Cuts In Budget 2024: Collective Calls For Immediate Action

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The Manaaki Rangatahi Youth Homelessness Collective, Aotearoa New Zealand's leading youth homelessness advocacy group, expresses deep concern over the recent reallocation of $20 million in unspent funds for Youth Transitional Housing in the Budget 2024. The coalition Government's decision to remove these funds, deemed ‘unallocated,’ has raised major concerns across the housing sector and dealt a severe blow to youth homelessness advocates.

Bianca Johanson, Pou Arahi of Manaaki Rangatahi, states, ‘We are devastated and frustrated that in this year's budget, youth housing, which we have fought for over 6 years, has not been deemed a worthwhile investment for our rangatahi. This decision is out of step with the coalition Government's focus on Youth at Risk. While reinstating boot camps for high-risk young people, the Government is simultaneously erasing the future housing supports these same young people need to gain belonging, independence, and a fresh start at life.’

With an operating allowance of $3.2 billion in Budget 2024, the inability to commit to allocating $20 million over four years to house rangatahi experiencing homelessness is extremely disappointing.

The coalition's decision must be scrutinised, especially after the Waitangi Tribunal report found in the Wai2750 housing policy and services inquiry that it breached its Treaty obligations in dealing with rangatahi homelessness. This further highlights the critical need for targeted funding and support for youth housing initiatives.

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Johanson emphasises, ‘Young people sleeping on the streets of Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch, and Wellington is no longer a hidden truth but a visible reality. We call on the honourable Minister of Housing Chris Bishop and the Prime Minister to urgently meet with the Collective to fully understand the implications of this short-sighted decision.’

Manaaki Rangatahi member organisations, such as Mā Te Huruhuru, Mana Services, and Visionwest, have successfully established safe, stable, and successful models of youth housing.

Mahera Maihi, representing Mā Te Huruhuru within the Collective, adds, ‘Mā Te Huruhuru has transformed taitamariki lives through housing and cultural support, becoming a cornerstone in our South Auckland community. The new budget unfairly impacts Māori, stripping away essential resources and support they desperately need.’

The Collective stands ready to engage in dialogue with the Government to prioritise youth housing and continue its work in preventing and ending youth homelessness in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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