Opinion: Time to get serious about homelessness

By Tamati Coffey -
1 comment
PHOTO/FILE
PHOTO/FILE

Housing. It's been a topic that continues to plague the government in this their eighth year of sitting in the power seats. It's their achilles heel.

Our biggest city is bursting at the seams, and forcing whole families to sleep in their cars.

Our homelessness crisis is real and it's happening in most of our big cities, including Rotorua.

Non-New Zealand residents are buying up our houses and house sales going up with home ownership going down. What does that mean? Well, simply, that our housing market is filled with investors who are buying and selling at a rate of knots.

A whole generation of young New Zealanders are struggling to get onto the property ladder and have by default, become part of 'Generation Rent'. This isn't new though.

Politicians could see this coming a long time back - even the Prime Minister.

In 2007, John Key remarked about how we were facing a severe home affordability and home ownership crisis and he said it was an issue that should concern all New Zealanders because it threatened a fundamental part of our culture, our communities and, ultimately, our economy. He was dead right. The sad thing is, it's become worse under his watch.

Nearly 10 years on, the problem has gone from crisis to breaking point for many New Zealanders.

The National Party recently blocked an attempt to open an official investigation, so the Greens, Labour and the Maori Party decided to go it alone and run their own inquiry.

A tour has now started around NZ, and we are fortunate to be hosting Marama Fox from the Maori Party, Marama Davidson from the Greens and Phil Twyford from Labour in Tauranga on Monday.

At the submission hearings, people will be invited to talk to this cross party panel about the cold hard realities of homelessness in the community. I will be making a submission on Monday on behalf of our community, informed by some of our community groups that work in that area and from what I've been told by people living on our streets.

Phil Twyford is the Labour Spokesperson for Housing and he has agreed to come over to Rotorua this Monday to an open public meeting. Phil is keen to engage with our locals about how the housing situation affects us here.

We have many organisations in Rotorua that are doing their best to help the homelessness situation, but we need to pool our efforts and get into the ears of people who can make a difference, so I invite you to come along and share your thoughts.

* Phil Twyford, Labour/Greens/Maori Party inquiry into homelessness. St Lukes Church, 6.30pm-7.30pm, Monday August 29.

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