Many rangatahi Māori are choosing severe housing deprivation over having to engage with government agencies responsible for providing much-needed support.
According to kaupapa Māori researcher Jacqueline (Jackie) Paul, the lack of appropriate support and continuing discrimination Māori face when seeking help will continue to increase housing disparity.
“Half of the people experiencing homelessness in Aotearoa are under 25. Yet we don’t understand the challenges of rangatahi experiencing homelessness, many of whom are parents or expecting babies.
“Imagine having to move all the time, change schools, make new friends and live with the despair that things will not get better anytime soon. Hopelessness can often be associated with mental health issues, a prevalent issue in the youth community. The relationships surrounding homelessness, housing instability and mental health are well-studied internationally and paint a stark and harsh reality for many.”
"I have seen some of my whānau struggle with accessing emergency housing and living in motels that were unsuitable for their tamariki, and I know others who moved home to our papakāinga in the far north.”
Jackie Paul has co-written a research report dedicated to exploring the severity of youth homelessness in collaboration with fellow researchers and the Manaaki Rangatahi ki Tāmaki Makaurau Youth Homelessness Collective.
Manaaki Rangatahi ki Tāmaki Makaurau Youth Homelessness Collective gives rangatahi experiencing homelessness a voice by providing advocacy support across social services and the housing system.
The research partnership helped expose an alarming lack of reliable data, services, resources, and funding targeting youth homelessness.
Manaaki Rangatahi lead co-ordinator Bianca Johanson says kaupapa and rangatahi Māori-led research into homelessness is decades overdue.
“We have been waiting for data and research that is kaupapa Māori-led, that shines a light on the exhausting and painful human rights issue that is our rangatahi having nowhere to go that is safe, warm, and provides manaakitanga.”
'Nowhere to go'
According to the report, legislative provisions addressing teenage homelessness are inadequate, and there are no clear pathways for guiding and supporting young people into safe and secure homes.
Co-author Paul is more than 2253 kilometres away from home but her passion and dedication to combating housing disparity for Māori remains close to her heart.
Paul (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) relocated to the United States in September to pursue her PhD after being awarded a scholarship to attend the world’s top-ranked university, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Jackie has dedicated her entire professional life to solving the housing disparity for Māori, and is a passionate supporter of changing discriminatory policy by incorporating strategies that embody Te Tiriti o Waitangi collaboration.
She holds a four-year bachelor of landscape architecture degree (Unitec), a master of philosophy in planning growth and regeneration (University of Cambridge), and is well on her way to securing her PhD.
Despite the distance and demanding workload, she is continuing her crusade to combat the housing crisis by continuing to share insights and knowledge critical to making real change.
To keep the kōrero alive Jackie has penned the first of a series of articles she intends to continue pushing into the public forum of discussion until genuine transformative change for rangatahi Māori, in particular, is evident.