John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Petition urges action to house homeless

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A petition signed by 290 people asks Tauranga City Council to take urgent action to establish emergency housing for families. Photo/File
A petition signed by 290 people asks Tauranga City Council to take urgent action to establish emergency housing for families. Photo/File

A petition signed by 290 people has urged Tauranga City Council to take urgent action to establish emergency housing for families.

It was organised by Welcome Bay resident Neville Lowry and was due to be debated by the council today.

Community development manager Meagan Holmes said that although the council had no official position on homelessness, staff were working with other organisations to see how emergency housing could best be addressed in Tauranga. It required a multi-agency approach.

Two workshops had been held with a wide range of organisations involved in housing and the homeless. They included the police, the District Health Board, the night shelter, government agencies, churches and other community groups.

The first workshop attracted more than 70 participants and the second about 50 people. It led to the establishment of a steering group.

''The exact role and purpose of the homelessness steering group is being finalised...it is likely the group will focus on defining what homelessness means in the context of Tauranga - understanding the issues and identifying the needs.''

Ms Holmes said it was envisaged that the group would develop an action plan, with the focus on women and families sleeping in tents or cars.

The assessment phase was due to be completed by the end of this month, with detailed work expected to be finished in August, including a realistic timeline to implement actions.

The council last month agreed to make a night shelter for women the top priority for its future project funding application to TECT.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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