Napier beggars and businesses are pleased the government will be investing $325,000 into helping the chronically homeless in Napier off the streets and into warm, safe housing.

Napier beggar Reuben Whaanga, 22, said the initiative was a good idea and would change the entire atmosphere of the town.

He said he had been homeless for more than a year and only needed a bed and help into a job to get him on track to supporting himself.

Read more: Govt to give $325,000 to house Napier's homeless
Damon Rusden: Homeless need help, not derision

Advertisement

"I reckon it's a good idea because we don't need much, we just need one home to go to and then we're good to go."

"I'd be able to work, have some money and buy me a feed when I want. I won't have to ask people."

Announced last week, the initiative will see the government invest $325,000 over the next two years in Whatever It Takes (WIT), a Napier based charity which delivers community support for those in need.

The funding is set to provide the charity with the ability to potentially support up to 20 individuals each year, including two homes that could house up to five chronically homeless individuals at a time while they're helped into more permanent accommodation.

After sleeping rough for some time now, Mr Whaanga said the hardest thing about being homeless was the cold of which only sleep could distract him from.

"You don't feel the cold when you sleep."

He said he was well-aware of the concerns many Napier businesses had about beggars and thought the initiative would help address their concerns.

"I reckon it's going to be good because they [business owners] get normal people who want to go into shops. It doesn't look good and people often have their kids with them,

"It will fix it and change the way things are around here."

Napier City Business Inc manager Zoe Barnes said businesses in the Napier CBD were also happy with the government's initiative and looked forward to the change it would make.

"Napier CBD businesses are very pleased with the announcement of central government assistance in dealing with this complicated issue."

"A collaborative approach such as this has proven to be successful in other regions, and alongside the security approach from Napier City Council, we look forward to seeing positive change within the community as soon as possible."

In a Napier City Council meeting earlier this year Ms Barnes expressed concerns about the increased amount of begging in the vicinity of Clive Square and down Emerson Street into the CBD, adding that these concerns had shifted from retail loss to fears for personal safety because of this.

"Not only does this clearly affect businesses' bottom line, it also is affecting staff stress levels and general well-being, which is not acceptable."

Estimating beggar numbers had tripled in recent months, Mr Whaanga said the situation had been getting "worse"; adding that he didn't think all those who were asking for money genuinely needed it.

"We all know one another around here and there are some fellas who don't need to do it and kind of annoys me because they'll beg and then an hour later I"ll see them munching on KFC."

Mr Whaanga said he felt it let those who were begging out of genuine need down, and often wanted to tell them to "go home" because he knew they had family, food and a bed just around the corner.

"I've seen it with my own eyes. I sit in a spot for three hours and someone who isn't homeless will sit down and get $20."