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Taxpayers Are Forking Out $103 Per Laundry Service Or Shower Provided By A Government-funded Charity

Taxpayers are forking out $103 per laundry service or shower provided by a Government-funded charity, reveals the New Zealand Taxpayers' Union.

According to its 2020 annual review, taxpayer-funded charity Orange Sky received $437,500 from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development for the 2020 financial year and in that time provided 4,248 free mobile laundry and shower services for the homeless.

Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, "Orange Sky claims that for its 2020 funding it produced $557,000 of "social impact", but by its own admission only a quarter of that impact came from shower and laundry services, the rest of the touted benefits supposedly coming from quality of life gained by 'friends' (the homeless) and by volunteers delivering the services."

"In other words, the supposed benefit to taxpayers from our investment is based on completely vague notions of wellbeing that cannot be measured in any objective way."

"The big winners here aren't the homeless, but the charity's Australian management. In 2020 Orange Sky paid a whopping $159,485 on management fees to its Australian parent organisation – more than the claimed value of its shower and laundry services."

Shower/laundry services:

Orange Sky says that in 2020 it provided 2,378 loads of laundry and 1,870 showers, with a claimed 'social impact' worth $144,000. In other words, Orange Sky claims that each shower or laundry service it provides is worth around $34. Of course, in the real world a shower or laundry service from a public pool or laundromat costs just $5 or so.*

*A washing cycle at Newtown Laundromat, in an area in which Orange Sky operates, costs $4 for a 4kg load. Entry to Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre's facilities at the full adult price costs $6.60.

Benefit of conversations:

Orange Sky says that in 2020 it provided 3,086 hours of conversation to the homeless, with a claimed "quality of life" benefit of $274,000 – or $89 per hour of conversation. Of course, it is difficult to imagine a social service provider paying unqualified workers $89 per hour – but that is how much Orange Sky claims its conversations are worth.

Benefit for volunteers:

Orange Sky claims the benefits are even greater once the benefits to the volunteers are taken into account. Orange Sky says its 112 volunteers in 2020 enjoyed $122,000 in "quality of life" benefits – $1,089 per volunteer. It is unclear how the charity calculates the quality of life benefits for their volunteers.

Background:

Orange Sky originated in Queensland, Australia and arrived in New Zealand in May of 2018, with the Government announcing funding that same year.

In its mission statement, Orange Sky markets itself as a provider of practical services for the homeless: 'We want to make sure that everyone has access to free laundry and shower services – but most importantly – the opportunity to connect and feel welcome.'

Funding for Orange Sky was first announced by Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford in 2018.

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