Sonya is a social issues reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Children 'dead in the eyes' as homelessness reaches crisis level

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Merivale School principal Jan Tinetti says homelessness has reached a crisis level never seen before in Tauranga. Photo/George Novak
Merivale School principal Jan Tinetti says homelessness has reached a crisis level never seen before in Tauranga. Photo/George Novak

Submitters at a meeting to discuss homelessness in Tauranga have labelled the problem a crisis at a level never seen before.

Tauranga was chosen as one of four locations to host a hearing as part of the inquiry launched by the Labour, Green and Maori parties. The meeting is open to public and currently being held at Wesley Centre, 100 13th Ave.

Merivale School principal and NZEI representative Jan Tinetti told the crowd the school had lost 20 children from its roll this year because of no housing.

''In May it was 15, and it is upsetting for not only the children but the staff at the schools,'' she said.

''We are in a crisis. I've never seen anything like this before,'' she said.

''I see on a day to day basis [that] we have a massive issue in this community.''

Ms Tinetti said some children had already been to three or four schools this year because their lives had become so transient.

''Some are dead in the eyes, they have no emotion at all. This is happening in a daily basis in my school.

''I dread families telling me they have no housing. There is just no housing left. I feel hopeless. Mums [are] in my office in absolute tears because they don't know what to do to house their children.''

Homelessness is real. Not knowing where you're going to go the next day with five of your six kids is hard.
Homeless mother of six Mazz Adams

Tauranga woman Mazz Adams also addressed the crowd.

''I am a homeless solo mother of six [with] two jobs. Homelessness is real. Not knowing where you're going to go the next day with five of your six kids is hard.

''There's no way of knowing what you're going to do tomorrow. No idea how you'll cook your next kai for your kids.''

Tauranga homeless mother of six Mazz Adams speaks at a meeting about homelessness in Tauranga, part of a national inquiry into the issue. Photo/George Novak
Tauranga homeless mother of six Mazz Adams speaks at a meeting about homelessness in Tauranga, part of a national inquiry into the issue. Photo/George Novak

Ms Adams said three of her children were working.

''We are not a lazy family.

''[There is a] struggle out there for families not as successful. If it's like this for me, imagine what it's like for them. It's going to be hard for the children if we don't do anything about it now.

''I just want a home. I want to be able to cook my kids a roast.''

Labour's Housing spokesman, Phil Twyford said in a statement: "The fact that Tauranga has been chosen as a venue for one of four hearings across the country is an acknowledgement of how serious the issue of homelessness has become right across the region.''

The meeting is expected to run until about 4pm.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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