Government spending $325,000 to address Napier's homelessness problem

Finding accommodation for Napier's rough sleepers won't necessarily solve the city's begging problem. (File photo)

Finding accommodation for Napier's rough sleepers won't necessarily solve the city's begging problem. (File photo)

A funding boost of $325,000 to get rough sleepers off the streets in Napier is expected to go some way towards addressing the city's problem with disorderly beggars.

But a social services agency warns it won't solve the issue entirely because not all beggars are homeless and not all homeless people can be housed.

The Government said on Monday it would spend $325,000 over two years on housing and related social services for a small group of "chronically homeless" people in Napier.

Social Housing Minister Amy Adams said the money support up to 20 people a year who have been living on the streets.
DASHA KUPRIENKO

Social Housing Minister Amy Adams said the money support up to 20 people a year who have been living on the streets.

Social Housing Minister Amy Adams said the money would allow local social services and housing provider the Whatever It Takes (WIT) trust to support up to 20 people a year who have been living on the streets.

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The funding would allow the trust to run two homes that will temporarily house up to five homeless people each.

Beggars claiming to be homeless have been blamed for a spate of disorderly behaviour in Napier's CBD over the past few months.

The city's retailers say the beggars, who are often drunk or high, have been intimidating shoppers and frightening shop workers.

On Wednesday, a Napier City Council committee will consider boosting security patrols in a bid to address the issue.

WIT general manager Caroline Lampp said housing the city's homeless would reduce the begging problem but not solve it completely because not all those who had recently been begging in the CBD were homeless.

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Also, some rough sleepers were not able to be assisted by the new initiative, she said.

"You can only house people who want to be housed and who are able to live well in a housing situation. Currently some of [Napier's rough sleepers] have got issues that mean that is not possible."

Lampp said the initiative was already paying off and paving the way for a likely reduction in inner-city disorder.

WIT found accommodation for seven homeless people last week, including four who would receive services from the new funding.

"We've been trying for a long time to get housing for these guys and to house seven of them in one week was amazing."

Napier City Council manager of community strategies Natasha Carswell said the combination of housing and other services WIT could offer homeless people under the new scheme offered "the best chance for success".

"This housing is available for those who want to be housed and are ready to receive assistance. Some of the men who have been involved in low level criminal or antisocial behaviour have declined this kind of help in the past, but through the outreach service may hopefully engage in the future."

Lampp would not reveal the locations of the homes being used under the scheme, citing the privacy of the residents being taken in.

"We want this to succeed, we don't want to set them up to fail so we'll go about it in the way we usually work with our clients which is quite inconspicuously."

 - Stuff

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