Image provided by Elliot Pry
A petition signed by 10, 725 people has been delivered to Parliament calling on the Government to create an effective national strategy to end homelessness in New Zealand.
Those who signed the petition also want to make it the Government's ongoing priority by forming a dedicated Ministerial responsibility.
ActionStation Co-Director Laura O'connell Rapira says, “We need specific policies and Ministerial responsibilities to end homelessness and ensure everyone in New Zealand can have a warm dry home as a basic human right.”
The petition was delivered by James Crow of Gimme Shelter and Actionstation with support from representatives of the AUT Human Rights campaign group The Voice of Homeless Youth.
“It seems ridiculous that there isn’t support systems to go ‘oh it’s winter let’s prepare for this. Instead the Government just seems to cobble it together,” Crow says.
Labour Party Deputy Leader Jacinda Adern accepted the petition and will, alongside Labour Housing Spokesperson Phil Twyford, will table it to the House today.
Shahd Mahmoud of The Voice for Homeless Youth described how they met a seventeen year old while making a documentary on the issue who said “the stress of homelessness led him to depression and at one point contemplated suicide as that was an easier way out”
According to a study by the University of Otago, more than half of the estimated 41,000 homeless people in New Zealand are under 25.
“A lack of housing affects absolutely everything - in particular we’re increasingly seeing kids without fixed accommodation, so absolutely I think most New Zealanders would want to see a government that commits to ending homelessness and the negative effects it has on our kids and communities,” said Jacinda Adern.
“Along with a Minister responsible for homelessness, we also think the Government should have a nationwide strategy to end homelessness with a serious programme of action,” said Phil Twyford.