NEW ZEALAND’S government has made a pledge to solve homelessness by getting all rough sleepers off the streets and into shelters before the winter weather arrives in about a month’s time.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the statement on Thursday when she promised NZ$100 million (US$70 million) for emergency housing to tackle the growing problem in New Zealand, which has the highest rates of homelessness in the OECD.
A report from Yale Online found there are an estimated 40,000 people live in cars, tents and garages amid a chronic housing shortage in the nation of 4.7 million people.
The money will go towards 1,500 shorter-term, or emergency, houses.
In a video posted to her Facebook page, Ardern, along with housing minister Phil Twyford, said there should be no homelessness in a country such as New Zealand.
Just finishing up an emergency housing announcement…
Posted by Jacinda Ardern on Thursday, May 3, 2018
“Images of children growing up in cars sits well with no one,” she said.
“We have announced today NZ$100m going into emergency housing. That will enable us to double the number of emergency houses that were brought on last winter.”
Ardern acknowledged that her administration had not been able to build all the houses needed to permanently house people in time for winter. As a “transitional” measure, she is investing in emergency housing to get people off the streets during the southern hemisphere’s harshest months.
A wider building programme to cater to everyone in the long-term is in the works, she said.
“We couldn’t sit by and see people in cars or in completely unsuitable housing in the meantime.”
The government has also put out a request for members of the public to volunteer additional accommodation to house homeless people.
New Zealand uses the Housing First programme, which aims to get homeless people into permanent housing before dealing with issues such as addiction or mental health.
There is no requirement for tenants to be alcohol or drug-free when they enter the programme.
The emergency housing package will expand the programme, while the remainder will be used to sustain and maintain its services.