Despite latest figures, Rotorua homeless numbers still highly visible

By Mere McLean
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Beneficiary numbers have dropped in Rotorua according to figures released by the Ministry of Social Development. 

However a volunteer in Rotorua who helps homeless people, says the number of homeless people in the city is still highly visible.

Love Soup Rotorua are preparing these boxes of food to feed the homeless, many of whom are on the benefit but continue to struggle.

Gina Peiffer (Love Soup Rotorua) says, "They might be coming off the benefit, but they are going onto the streets.  There's not a lot of work here in Rotorua, prior to Christmas we had an influx of mums and kids going to the streets."  

According to figures released by the Ministry of Social Development, 7406 Rotorua people were on the benefit at the end of December.  Peiffer says many homeless experience difficulties when trying to obtain a benefit.

"There are those that cannot read or write and they are not going to tell Work and Income that they can't read or write so they go without and those are your original dumpster drivers," says Peiffer.

Love Soup Rotorua caters for the homeless and rough sleepers.  Peiffer says these are the people who experience difficulties and sleep in their vehicles or on reserves.  She says many of them are trying to find work, however rely on the benefit. 

"I would like to see jobs being created somewhere anywhere for these people.  There is a lot of skilled people there out on the streets.  There are lots of mums that are willing to go to work but the work is not there," she explains.

Peiffer says that the benefit is not enough to live on which is why she is seeing more and more families becoming homeless.

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