A collective approach to address homelessness

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The New Zealand Coalition to End Homelessness met today at AUT in Auckland to discuss their strategic plan for the next four years.

In the recent report Commissioned by Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford, “A Stocktake of New Zealand's Housing, data from emergency housing providers in 2017 indicated that, for every 10 homeless people who approached them, eight or nine were turned away.

CEO of Rauawaawa Kaumātua Trust, Rangimahora Reddy says, “What you have is different regions in different areas trying their best to cater for those within their areas, but there is a great help that our government and local councils can do in terms of helping us work more collaboratively and learn rather than going through the same learning curve.”

Whanau Ora Navigator Janette Kaumoana says that within current infrastructure and support systems there is a lack of recognition of the elderly who are homeless.

“One of the biggest ones is that our kaumātua are sick people, they go into hospitals and when they come out they got nowhere to go. It's been around for a long time, it's just that now we're starting to capture all these kaumātua and that's only because they're being referred to us to help them get a whare.

The biggest problem right now is getting our kaumātua on a Ministry of Social Development listing to get a home.”

Project Manager at Maori Housing Foundation Rau Tatangi, Yvonne Wilson says, “The demand outweighs the supply so we don't have enough housing, in particular in the papa kāinga village setting, for our kaumātua to feel safe in those environments.”

Reddy explains that approximately 15% of people above the age of 60 are homeless here in NZ and that over the next decade, 1 in every 4 of those over 60 will be homeless.

Service providers, support workers, researchers as well as those with lived experience, have gathered to discuss a more collective approach moving forward.

“In 2018 we're at a great space to learn and actually develop opportunities so that what our kaumātua face today the growing population that will be in 2030 do not have to go through those same challenges and hardships,” says Reddy.

Community project manager for Maori Housing Foundation Ngā Rau Tatangi, Yvonne Wilson says there is a need for sustainable housing for kaumātua.

“I think the solution going forward is that the government needs to come and talk to organisations like ourselves, in terms of we've done it we've experienced it and we know that we've got good outcomes and how we can further grow our capacity around delivering good housing quality housing for our kaumātua.”

Rangimahora Reddy says the safer we make the space as soon as possible, the better pathway whānau will have in coming years.