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Think-tank on Homelessness taking place in Wellington

Thursday 4 October 2012

Think-tank on Homelessness taking place in Wellington

Disturbing statistics on homelessness in Wellington have driven concerned citizens to convene a community think-tank on homelessness, being held in Tory Street tomorrow (Friday, 5 October).

The think-tank is being held at 19 Tory St – the home of the Concerned Citizens Collective - from 5.30 to 7.30pm.

The event has the support of Stephanie McIntyre, director of Downtown Community Ministry, who says “I really think it is time for creative solutions to this most pressing issue here in our Capital”.

Organiser Barry Thomas describes the homelessness situation as an “imperfect storm”, contrasting the shortfall of 1300 social housing beds in Wellington to the city’s 12,000 empty office spaces. Recent homelessness in the Aro Valley area alone – as reported in the Valley’s community newspaper - found many people sleeping rough, in garages and putting pressure on their quite unprepared community co-ordinator and Aro Valley Community Council’s centre.

With the City Council upgrade of their 2,300 flats social housing has lost in the order of 750- 900 flats at any one time, with, it appears, little contingency for on-going replacement during the 20 year upgrade. Add to this the loss of Housing NZ flats on the Terrace. and even more in Newtown due to increased concern over earthquake damage, and the plight of the most vulnerable in our community is at an all time low.

Since the think-tank was first announced it has been attracting the attention of developer Ian Cassels, designer Joe Bleakley (OBE), Steve Flude of Wellington City Council and a growing Facebook following.

Barry Thomas: “Already we have designers, artists, social thinkers, people, architects, developers and community housing advocates, lining up alongside experts in homelessness and people who have experienced and are experiencing homelessness in the common cause of taking some tangible leadership and action.

“Any creative thinkers in Wellington who care and have something to contribute are welcome to join in - be it with legal support, regulatory advice, design or any other capacity that’s about putting forward housing solutions and partnerships, or simply adding their ideas to the mix.

“By pooling our collective thinking we think that we can push beyond a talkfest and really ignite some action. We’ve already making helpful connections with groups in Australia and have been put in touch with a like minded group in San Francisco so it feels very much like it is taking off in the right direction.

“Imagine if we could harness just a fraction of the creative building capacity of Weta or the Hobbit makers. This really is a call for ‘haves’ of the community to come to the aid of the ‘have nots’”, says Thomas. “We can’t really be worthy of names like creative capital or cool capital if we don’t work together to meet the basic housing needs that exist around us”.


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