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Budget Abandons Homeless Young People For Tax Cuts

Kick Back, a Youth Development and Social Justice organization responding to Youth Homelessness, is concerned about the reduction in funding to youth-focused transitional housing places.

The Government has indicated that 20 million that had been tagged to support Youth Transitional Housing projects over the next 3 years will now no longer go ahead.

These are critical services that respond to Youth Homelessness and that would have ensured that young people experiencing homelessness received specific housing and wrap around support.

Kick Back is concerned that the need for such services is growing, and that without dedicated housing services airmarked in the budget, that our young people will continue to slip through the cracks.

“Practically speaking, this means that instead of scaling up and addressing the challenge of youth homelessness head on, we’re pulling back.” Say’s Kick Back’s co­founder Aaron Hendry. “Essentially, meaning that as a community we will be able to house fewer young people than we would have done, meaning that more young people will be abandoned to our streets. For those young people, and for our communities, the real, human cost and harm, is immeasurable.”

Kick Back is concerned that the choice to scale back responses to Youth Homelessness are out of step with the Government’s stated commitment to address the Youth Mental Health Crisis and also it’s commitment to get serious about reducing youth crime.

“Homelessness is a major driver to why some young people become involved in the justice system. Many of our young people tell us that when they experienced homelessness they felt they had no choice but to become involved in crime just as a matter of survival.” Says Hendry, “We are also extremely concerned about the impact the lack of housing is having on our young people’s mental health. Depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation are all consequences of homelessness. If we are serious about addressing youth mental health in Aotearoa, we need to get serious about ensuring all our young people have safe and supported housing to live in. That means addressing youth homelessness. These issues are connected, and until we start treating them as such, we will continue to struggle to address them.”

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Kick Back is concerned about what this says about the value we are placing on our young people. A budget is perhaps one of the clearest manifestations of who and what we value in society.

We could, and should, have chosen to show our value for our young people by ensuring significant investment in ending youth homelessness. We have chosen not to, and the cost of this will be felt by our children.

“It’s important for us to contextualize and humanize this decision.” Says Hendry, “In the most simplest terms, the decision not to act to end youth homelessness is a decision that leaves more of our kids on the streets, in motels, in abandoned buildings, in cold cars, or in unsafe living environments. It means trauma, it means harms, it means increased risk of suicide, it means we are choosing to allow more of our children to suffer. We can and we must start making better choices.”

This Government should, and could, have chosen to build on the last Government's acknowledgement of Youth Homelessness and pour significant investment into responding to this incredibly important issue.

We are choosing not to, and fundamentally, it would appear that choice is being guided by commitments made to prioritize tax cuts that benefit landlords and the wealthy, over the urgent health and safety of our kids. A country isn't a business. We are a community. And while one of our children is going without safety, without a home, without the care and love they deserve, then there can be no expense worth paying in order to keep them safe.

We have to do better.

#KickBackMakeChange #EndYouthHomelessness

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