Unaffordable housing, an increased cost of living, inadequate healthcare services and rising levels of crime are among the pressing challenges facing local communities. The Salvation Army’s sixth ‘State of Our Communities’ report, released today, focuses on the collective challenges and aspirations of residents in four key communities: Manukau, Thames, Nelson and Motueka.
“Locals voiced concerns about the cost of living, highlighting the soaring prices of essentials like food, petrol and power, which many struggle to afford,” says report author Ana Ika. One respondent in Manukau shared, “Food shortage is a big thing, even people with jobs are finding it hard and have nowhere to turn to”.
The affordability and availability of housing in these communities exacerbate the financial burdens associated with daily living for many residents. All communities face a shortage of dwellings relative to the population, and rental properties are often unaffordable. One respondent stated that Nelson has ‘sunshine wages’, which, unfortunately, lead to financial hardship. ‘Sunshine wages’ refer to lower wages compensated by a better lifestyle.
These communities grapple with these challenges against the backdrop of rising crime levels, with one local in Thames expressing, “The antisocial and/or criminal behaviour seems to be becoming more prevalent”. In addition, residents also highlight the challenges of accessing healthcare and mental health support, says Ms Ika.
“For the government’s first 100 days, residents propose the following solutions: in Manukau, a focus on enhancing law enforcement for improved safety; in Thames, an initiative to combat child poverty during the first 1000 days of a child’s life; in Nelson, an effort to increase healthcare worker numbers to address healthcare challenges; and in Motueka, an allocation of resources to meet the growing demand for community-based mental health and addiction services,” says Ms Ika. Despite the many challenges locals face, they remain hopeful for the future of their community.
“It remains paramount that we keep the pressing issues faced by local communities in the spotlight. It’s the collective responsibility for our communities’ local and national governments to come together to tackle these challenges head-on, ensuring a better future for all New Zealanders,” says Ms Ika.