Opinion: We can tackle this as one

By Katie Shevlin

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Mount Maunganui. Photo/File
Mount Maunganui. Photo/File

On a sunny day in Mount Maunganui, there are few places in the world I'd rather be. It is paradise. And it seems many other people agree with me - so much so that they are willing to pay through the nose to live here.

Living in Mount Maunganui is simultaneously lovely and depressing. On my commute I gaze wistfully at the ream of beautiful houses that stretches along the beach front, knowing I will never be able to afford one.

Where houses like this used to be aspirational, they are now wholly out of reach for young professionals such as myself.

But hey, I still have a roof over my head. I should count myself lucky, because it seems even this is now out of reach for some families, as evidenced in yesterday's report on the Bay's homeless children, and again in today's report on transient student numbers - families forced to move because of housing issues. In fact, scarcely a day goes by lately where Tauranga's housing crisis isn't mentioned or featured in the paper. And this isn't normal.

Yes, cities have had homeless people for a long time. But these are families with a steady income forced on to the street with nowhere to go.

While reading stories like this, you may feel as if you can do nothing. You may be moved briefly, but it is easy to push it to the back of your mind. It's sad, but it's not happening to you. It's like cancer - you think you are immune. Yet, like cancer, do nothing and it will spread.

On Monday we told the heartwarming story of 13-year-old Kauri Noble, who instigated a fundraising dinner after learning that the family of one of his schoolmates were living in a van under a bridge in Te Puna. His actions serve as a reminder that it is within our power to help.

The inflating price of houses is beyond our control, but you can still act. If you have spare time, volunteer at a social agency that needs support. If you have spare money, donate it to the Whare 4 Whanau project that helps to get the homeless back on their feet. If you have a spare room, you could even provide shelter to a family.

We can all play a part in changing this situation. Paradise is not paradise when there are those without a roof over their head.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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