Strong community support for Park Up Otara

By Mānia Clarke

South Auckland community groups are gearing up to support tomorrow’s peaceful protest against homelessness, Park Up for Homes in Otara.  It follows last week’s inaugural event in Māngere, which saw hundreds of people sleep in their cars for 12 hours. 

The McPhee family could be known for their meals on wheels, every Monday for the past 3 weeks they've been feeding the vulnerable, now the demand for help has grown.

“We're feeding anywhere from 100 to 130 people a night.  We're getting the homeless, we're getting the struggling families, and we're getting the people living in the cars.  Because things are so tight out there, and it's getting worse,” says Feed a Family Charitable Trust facilitator, Vance McPhee.

The couple's charity work came to the attention of Homeless Community Advocater, Casey Panapa.  He says, “I've reached out to all community groups and charitable groups to be a part of this, so they can share and unite with me to try and make a difference.”

Last week in Mangere, hundreds of people spent the night in their cars to highlight the plight.  Local students who are organising this protest have also experienced the hardships.

“People within our class have actually experienced some form of homelessness, or overcrowding,” says organiser and MIT student, Shadrack Simi.

There are four carparks around the Otara shopping centre where organisers say, families are known to sleep in their cars.  Some of the carparks are safe at night, because they're well-lit, but all have access to the public toilets.
 
The Manager of Otara’s Citizens Advice Bureau, Lin Kaiou says, “They can't get a house because they have low or no income.  They are evicted from where ever they're staying because of over-crowding.  They can't afford the rents at that are being charged at the moment, and there is no facility anywhere where they can get secure, safe, clean housing for families.”

A Park Up for Homes event will also take place in Wellington tomorrow night, and another is planned for Onehunga next week.