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Decision-making time for homelessness in Lower Hutt

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Hutt City Council is about to start considering possible responses to homelessness in Lower Hutt, including Council’s contribution to tackling the problem.

Several options, one of which will become part of a plan to prevent vulnerable families becoming homeless and improve access to housing for those who are homeless, will be discussed at an extraordinary Policy and Regulatory Committee meeting on Monday 25 March.

As part of a homelessness strategy, already agreed to by Council, an action plan will be coordinated with the city’s social service providers, which have been a central part of the research and development of the strategy.

Principal Research and Policy Advisor John Pritchard says it quickly became clear during the research phase that only a city-wide approach to solving homelessness will work.

"Government, Council or the social service agencies working in isolation can’t end homelessness - this needs a truly collective approach to be successful."

While homelessness is difficult to precisely measure, Council research shows it has been increasing over the past 12 years and it is now taking longer to get homeless individuals and families into settled accommodation.

Insufficient housing supply is the main cause, with private rents in the northern and eastern wards increasing 26 and 25 per cent respectively in the last three years and 20 per cent in Wainuiomata.

During the same period, the public housing waiting list in Lower Hutt increased from 45 households to 367 (+715 per cent).

In an attempt to cope with insufficient housing supply, government is spending a disproportionate amount to house homeless Lower Hutt households compared to the rest of Wellington region. In the December 2018 quarter, there were 719 emergency housing grants approved in Lower Hutt, compared with 355 in Wellington, which has a population around twice the size of Lower Hutt.

While the critical issues of housing supply and housing affordability have been a Council focus for several years, and there are a number of initiatives in the pipeline to address this, Council has also started work on a housing strategy, part of which will deal with housing hardship.

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