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E Tipu E Rea Press Statement: Young Parents Are Invisible In Government’s Housing Strategy.

E Tipu E Rea press statement: Child Poverty Action Group’s report highlights that young parents are invisible in Government’s housing strategy.

E Tipu E Rea Whānau Services is a kaupapa Māori organisation that provides support to mātua taiohi and their tamariki in the Tamaki region. E Tipu E Rea are signed members of Manaaki Rangatahi.

Child Poverty Action Group’s new report The first year of Covid-19: Initial outcomes of our collective care for low-income children in Aotearoa New Zealand has highlighted that the lack of a strategy to end youth homelessness led to gross inequalities and injustices in the experiences of young people.

However, the report only touched on the housing needs of young people with tamariki.

While there has been no official data released as to the number of matua taiohi (young parents) and their tamariki requiring Emergency Accommodation in the year since lockdown, E Tipu E Rea has seen a significant increase in the number of mātua taiohi, both hapū and with pēpi, living in precarious environments or requiring Emergency Accommodation.

E Tipu E Rea social worker Lauren Bartley says that finding suitable accommodation for mātua taiohi is becoming harder. “We’re seeing young hapū wāhine being turned away from Emergency Housing at Work and Income, and instead being pushed into boarding houses that are completely inappropriate and unsafe for them.”

The report highlights that single māmā are at increased risk of homelessness due to facing discrimination and racism in the rental market, with landlords viewing our single-parent households as “undesirable tenants”. This discrimination is further amplified when those single māmā are Māori or Pasifika. Young māmā under 18 are at even greater risk of homelessness due to being unable to hold a tenancy, often leaving them in precarious or unsafe environments.

Tiana Kiro, a 19 year old māmā who E Tipu E Rea supported to find housing, shares that “most of the young māmā and pāpā that I know are struggling to find accomodaition for themselves and their tamariki. We want somewhere we can raise our pēpi in a safe and warm environment. All teenage parents want this, but there are many barriers in the way to achieving this dream – incuding discrimination”.

The impact on tamariki of precarious housing and emergency accommodation is likely to be far-reaching and intergenerational. Increased mental health concerns in both mātua taiohi and tamariki, chronic instability and insecurity, and a lack of a place to call home will have ongoing ramifications. CEO of E Tipu E Rea, Zoe Hawke says “Secure and affordable housing for mātua taiohi and their tamariki can provide the foundations needed for intergenerational achievement in education, employment, social, mental and physical hauora”.

E Tipu E Rea supports the Manaaki Rangatahi in their continued call for a strategy to End Youth Homelessness, which includes youth with tamariki. This strategy would examine the pipelines and key drivers of Youth Homelessness, and would make the necessary policy and legislation changes in order to close them. It would also ensure that gaps in our current system would be resourced, and plans put in place to respond to the needs of our rangatahi and prevent young people from falling into homelessness.

Rangatahi deserve an urgent, more responsive approach to their housing needs; rangatahi with tamariki even more so.

#EndYouthHomelessness

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