A shocking new report from the Salvation Army has found that half of the homeless people in Auckland are under 16 years old, and the government isn’t pulling its weight to help them.
Thirty children were found living in cars, and others in garages and camp grounds in in locations sampled by the Salvation Army. Some of the homeless have waited for more than six months for state housing, but half had never had contact from the Ministry of Social Development.
Nowhere to call home is the devastating reality for numbers of Auckland children and their parents.
In a survey of 1202 people seeking assistance from Salvation Army and Catholic community services, 47 per cent (568) of homeless people were children, some of whom were living in cars, garages, camping grounds and emergency housing. This is the startling picture captured in the latest report of The Salvation Army Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit on housing need in Auckland Invisible in the SuperCity.
“The social housing needed by these people is not currently available in sufficient quantity and present Government actions are not delivering sufficient affordable homes,” she says.
For families without housing, it is common for them to be homeless for up to six months before the situation can be resolved. More than 49% of the respondents had not been in contact with the Ministry of Social Development, the government agency responsible to address housing need in New Zealand.
“We hope by publicising the situation of these children and their families in this report, the Government and local authorities will be spurred to act with more urgency than we are currently seeing,” says Director of The Salvation Army’s Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit, Major Sue Hay.
“Auckland cannot be the world’s most liveable city and fail to house its people,” she says.
The Salvation Army report makes seven recommendations it believes will better address the situation of people without housing.
Two of these recommendations are:
- Government developing a programme to increase the supply of social housing by 1000 houses a year in Auckland over the next 10 years, or until waiting lists reduce to less than 100
- Improved access to the Ministry of Social Development for people who have acute housing needs. source
Download the report Invisible in the SuperCity – Hidden Homlessness in Auckland here.
Pounds of flesh from the poor and needy
One young mother, Elizabeth Gase, and her daughter have been living in a car for about a week. When the family went to Work and Income New Zealand to ask for a hardship grant for food and petrol they were told they were not going to get any housing.
When they did eventually receive emergency accommodation at $770 a week they had to leave because they couldn’t afford to repay the money…
The receptionist asked them what they had done to find a house. When Ms Gase said they were applying for social housing, she said she was told: “Well you guys are not going to get any housing. You can have an appointment at 4pm [for the hardship grant].”
Donna Potini, an advocate for Auckland Action Against Poverty who was there with her son, saw Ms Gase crying and and took the couple back to try again. “I spoke to the receptionist and said, ‘They have a child with no food’,” Ms Potini said. The agency approved the hardship grant and paid for them to stay that night in a cabin at an Avondale motor camp.
They were given an A9 priority for social housing. It is understood the A scale runs from A1 to a high of A20, and applicants currently need at least A12 to get a house within a few weeks. Work and Income paid for the family to stay at the motor camp for two and a half weeks, then at a motel in Henderson, then at another one in Te Atatu costing $770 a week.
But the money has to be repaid, and the family moved out this week afraid of the mounting debt. source
Meanwhile, on 6th November Ms Gase’s partner started work as a rubbish truck runner with Onyx on $16 an hour. WINZ promptly their application on hold and threatened to cancel it unless he gave them payslips by 24 November.
.The survey sample included 1202 people from 394 households affected by homelessness that sought assistance from the Salvation Army. The sample included people from 13 Auckland Salvation Army branches, Epsom Lodge hostel and De Paul House on the North Shore.
Fat Cats and Flag Changes
Meanwhile Minister for Social Development, Anne Tolley (left) is under the gun. Tolley has been paying the chair of a panel reviewing the ailing and poorly funded Child, Youth and Family department $2,000 a day. Initially Tolley was going to pay Paula Rebstock $3,000 but back tracked when the ‘excessive’ fee was seen to be three times the normal daily maximum stipulated by Cabinet’s own guidelines. Tolley said she had been ‘unaware’ of the rule, she also appears not to be able handle simple multiplication either.
However, Tolley must have been aware of the maximum remuneration rule because the government permitted a special exemption to allow the payment.
Former head of the Commerce Commision, Rebstock has something of a reputation for doing a ‘hatchet job’ on welfare and was appointed to the ACC board in 2011. Read woman who chaired the Government’s hard-nosed welfare working group has been appointed to the board of ACC
The government will also fund the Change the NZ flag campaign to the tune of $26 million, despite the majority of New Zealanders wanting to keep the flag as it is.
The flag change campaign is considered by many to be Prime Minister John Key’s “vanity project.”