Homelessness figures make sobering reading


So nearly 700 Dunedin people have been living in ‘‘severe housing deprivation’’ over this winter.
Mild as it may have been for those of us with roofs over our heads, it has been a bitter winter for those living in cars, garages, bunking up or sleeping rough. Homelessness is not just about street living either. It’s when you are without a secure home of your own. And surely we agree that every family deserves a warm and decent home to call their own. But they don’t all have one. And that must change.
The recent study out of the University of Otago has given us the best information yet of just how bad it has become. One in every 100 New Zealanders is now homeless, with more than 40,000 people facing severe housing depravation. More than half of our homeless people are working or studying too — it’s appalling that even if you’re working hard to earn a wage, you still can’t put a roof over your family’s head.
My Green Party colleague Marama Davidson, alongside MPs from Labour and the Maori Party, has been hearing from those people and their advocates as part of a nationwide cross-party inquiry into the issue. The cross-party inquiry came about because the Government refused to look into the issue themselves. National’s lack of interest in hearing how bad homelessness has become isn’t surprising really — after all, this is a government that refuses to admit that thousands of young people being locked out of home ownership or that selling off state houses when there’s more than 4000 people on the state-house waiting list doesn’t make sense.
We’ve taken it for granted that in New Zealand, most of us can afford to rent or buy a home for our family to live in, and if you can’t do that on your own the Government will help you to. Unfortunately, the growing numbers of Kiwis who are homeless shows that that’s no longer the case.