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Young People Experiencing Homelessness And Living In Emergency Accommodation 'feel Terrified'

Lifewise supports the Human Rights Commissioner calling the housing crisis a human rights crisis.

Working daily at the coalface of the crisis, Lifewise sees people experiencing homelessness, especially young people, who 'feel terrified' living in Emergency Accommodation.

“All young people should have access to safe, stable and supported housing. We have been calling the housing crisis a human rights crisis for a while now, so to hear these words from our country's Human Rights Commissioner is very encouraging and bodes well for the future of our rangatahi.

"Without a strategy to end youth homelessness, the basic human rights of young people will continue to be neglected, leaving some of our most vulnerable rangatahi vulnerable and at risk.

"We find it especially noteworthy that the guidelines are built on values of manaakitanga, the United Nations housing principles as well as Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

"If we want to end homelessness in Aotearoa, and keep our young people safe while we do it, we need to invest in solutions that will work for our rangatahi," says Lifewise Community Services Manager, Peter Shimwell.

Lifewise, alongside Manaaki Rangatahi, has consistently called for a strategy to End Youth Homelessness, including calling for Immediate Accommodation facilities to be set up that would replace current Emergency Accommodation methods, and enable young people to be safe, supported and cared for if they were to find themselves with nowhere to go.

Lifewise Youth Housing Team Leader, Aaron Hendry, says the harms of homelessness for young people can impact them for the rest of their lives.

"If they haven't come into emergency housing with an addiction, they often leave with one. We've had a lot of our tamariki who get exposed to sexual trauma in these spaces, especially being young and alone and vulnerable."

One young person who is currently experiencing homelessness and living in Emergency Accommodation says: "I feel terrified. It is really tough out there, me being a female. No rangatahi should be out there [on the streets]."

Lifewise provides safe, supported, trans-permanent housing for rangatahi experiencing homelessness, but it's not enough.

"We are regularly turning people away with it not being uncommon to be triaging up to 20 young people for one room.

"There is a gap of resources for under 18-year-olds, especially those without a care experience, and this is due to the lack of a strategy to prevent and end youth homelessness, with young people remaining at increased risk of harm," says Hendry.

During level 4 last year, Hendry and his team were faced with a number of challenges, especially finding safe housing for young people under 18, and little has changed since then.

"We had to tell these young 16-year-old vulnerable young women, 'Sorry, I don't know if we'll be able to find someplace. We may be sending you back onto the street tonight,'" says Hendry

Last week, Child Poverty Action Group released a report highlighting that the lack of a strategy to end and prevent youth homelessness increased harm for young people like Hannah during the lockdowns last year.

Lifewise alongside Manaaki Rangatahi renews calls for an urgent strategy to be put into place to prevent and end youth homelessness.

And today, Mark Hunt, the Human Rights Commissioner has called for an inquiry into the housing crisis, naming it a human rights crisis.

Sign and share the petition to end youth homelessness now: https://our.actionstation.org.nz/petitions/end-youth-homelessness

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