One in 100 Kiwis homeless, new study shows numbers quickly rising

Homeless people in Auckland's CBD.
CHRIS MCKEEN

Homeless people in Auckland's CBD.

Homelessness in New Zealand has been skyrocketing and now a new study proves just how big the issue is.

The "severely housing deprived" had accelerated from 2006 to 2013, says a study by University of Otago, Wellington.

At least one in every 100 Kiwis were homeless in 2013, this included those living with family and friends.

This figure had increased from 2006 data which showed one in every 120 people were homeless, while in 2001, this was at one in 130 people.

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University researcher Dr Kate Amore said the team wanted to put out some robust numbers on the issue of homelessness.

They found the problem was worsening in both numbers and in proportion of the population. 

According to rounded census numbers, in 2001 there were 28,649 people out of total population of 3,744,534 that were homeless (one person out of 130). In 2006 that grew to 33,295 out of 4,059,876 (one in 121) and in 2013 it accelerated to 41,705 out of 4,254,594 (one in 102).

"If the homeless population were a hundred people, 70 are staying with extended family or friends in severely crowded houses, 20 are in a motel, boarding house or camping ground, and 10 are living on the street, in cars, or in other improvised dwellings," she said.

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"They all urgently need affordable housing."

Amore said the Government needed to develop a comprehensive housing strategy that "recognised the fundamental importance of good quality, low-cost homes".

"New affordable houses are understandably not being provided by private developers," she said.

"Housing for all is essential to New Zealander's health and wellbeing as well as the country's prosperity. If no government action is taken this crisis is likely to deepen."

The numbers did not include those living in emergency accommodation such as night shelters.

Minister for Social Housing Paula Bennett was travelling overseas and not available for comment, but she has recently said the Government is doing a number of things to address homelessness.

This includes a $5000 grant to help 150 families in Auckland, either in social housing or without a home, to move to regions with empty state houses or affordable rentals.

She also announced last month that $41million would go toward boosting emergency housing.

A mobile squad of Ministry of Social Development staff and NGOs have been visiting Auckland City Mission and other areas this week to help people who may need help with emergency housing. 

Both Greens and Labour have criticised the Government after the report's release.

Labour leader Andrew Little said the problem was going to get worse as the Government sold off state houses and house prices increased.

"No New Zealander wants to see children growing up in these conditions. We are a better country than this."

Green Party social housing spokesperson Marama Davidson wanted a "complete overhaul" of the Government's approach to homelessness. She claimed a Green National Policy Statement on urban development would create "environmentally and people-friendly cities and towns, with plenty of affordable housing and good public transport options".

 - Stuff

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