TAHUA 2018: Hot topics for Rotorua locals

Homelessness, housing and mental illness are some of the areas those working on the ground in Rotorua hope will receive a boost in the government's budget announcement this Thursday.

Rotorua has the second-highest level of homelessness in the country which is something those working at grassroots level in Rotorua want to change.

Ngawhainga Kiriona-Winiata of Pouhine Charitable Trust says, “They can throw as much money as they want at the homeless situation but right now it's not going to fix anything.  We have a broken housing and mental health system”.

Gina Peiffer of Love Soup Rotorua says homelessness and mental health go hand in hand.

Many of her clients are needing help not only with finding a place to stay but also dealing with mental illness issues.

“I would like to see an extended services for mental health.  The 12 weeks they have available now to assist people is not long enough.  It's a band-aid on people that need surgery. [Also, an] after-hours mental health team that runs in the weekends and after hours”.

Housing subsidies, which include emergency housing, have increased by 66% since 2008.

In Rotorua, trusts which work with homelessness are running out of options because of the red tape they come into contact with.

“Policies need to be changed because as of today they don't align with the work that people like myself and our trust and the very few trusts in Rotorua are doing,” says Kiriona-Winiata.

The government has indicated that housing and homelessness are issues they want to address- here in Rotorua these are areas needing help now.