Homelessness recommendations good starting point - Huri Dennis

By Talisa Kupenga , Te Kāea

The Māori Party, the Greens and Labour are calling on National to step-up immediately to remedy the country's growing homelessness crisis. This follows the release today of the findings of the cross-party inquiry into homelessness where more than 500 grassroots submissions were condensed into 20 recommendations.

It's estimated to be costing the government up to $250mil a year. Today on World Homeless Day, the cross-party inquiry into homelessness released its recommendations from grassroots accounts to help remedy the situation.

Chairman of Te Puea Marae, Hurimoana Dennis says, "If you're not listening to grassroots, who are you actually listening to in terms of building your policies?"

Labour leader Andrew Little says, "The gap is there, the need is there. We have to get on and do it."

Recommendations include the programme Housing First to be the primary response for those experiencing severe homelessness, creating a national strategy to end homelessness, increasing the state housing stock and resolving the disconnect between Housing NZ and WINZ.

Marama Fox says, “The broken element of Housing New Zealand and WINZ needs to be fixed and the people have told us first-hand it is a barrier not a pathway to achieving a home and housing their families. So that can be done tomorrow. The way they implement the IRR that can be fixed tomorrow. The attitudinal change that needs to happen in the offices, treat people with dignity, that could be fixed tomorrow.”

Huri Dennis says, "Look you can have strategies and processes and systems until the cows come home. The people who implement the strategies are some of the bigger problems."

Dennis says finding a house is the easy part and other support services are needed to ensure families being placed have the best chance.

"Housing is a problem, homelessness is a problem but by-goodness putting them in homes and not dealing with everything else that comes with it is going to be a problem because out of the 130 that we put into homes, six of our whānau have fallen down through family violence, mental health issues and drug abuse and we've taken that seriously."

Dennis says a Māori lens is needed to bring Māori protocol into the equation.

Māori are disproportionate in the 40,000 homelessness figures, and because larger families and communal living arrangements sit outside the rules and regulations of Housing NZ.

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