Dylan is the deputy editor of the Bay of Plenty Times.

Editorial: No easy fix for vagrant issue

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Homelessness in Tauranga
Homelessness in Tauranga

I am doubtful a speedy solution to the numbers of homeless in the city centre can be found.

Yesterday, the Bay of Plenty Times reported that a quicker solution was being sought to problems caused by increasing numbers of homeless and beggars making nuisances of themselves in the city centre.

Read more: Call for solution to homeless problem

Downtown Tauranga manager Sally Cooke told councillors the issue of homeless people sitting outside shops all day and intimidating people had been prevalent in the lead up to Christmas.

She is not looking for the homeless to be moved out of the downtown, and says solutions needed to be compassionate. She favours a multi-agency approach.

As indicated by Mayor Stuart Crosby, the issues surrounding homelessness are many and varied.

Mr Crosby questions whether the issue is linked to the state of mental health services and lack of support for the services; also the issue revolved around the use of drugs and alcohol by homeless men, with begging a relatively new phenomenon.

There does not appear to be an easy answer to this question.

Much has been done to support the homeless in recent years - the most notable of which is the establishment of the Tauranga Moana Night Shelter, which, when it opened in 2014, was described as one of the best in New Zealand.

The shelter is not just a place for the homeless to doss down. There are support services, including a social worker to work with the men to try to get them back into mainstream accommodation and employment. Those who do not want to take that path are unlikely to seek its services. Everyone deserves shelter but, as this paper has noted before, it is not the the responsibility of the ratepayer, council, or indeed the Government, to facilitate a poor lifestyle choice.

Yes, the community should continue to provide all the help it can give but there is only so much it can do to when it comes to addressing this issue.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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