Plan aimed at homelessness

By Kyra Dawson

Shelly Fischer from the Salvation Army and Anna White from St Johns Church are part of the working party. Photo / Andrew Warner
Shelly Fischer from the Salvation Army and Anna White from St Johns Church are part of the working party. Photo / Andrew Warner

A community-based plan almost two years in the making aims to end homelessness in Rotorua.

The Rotorua Homeless Action Plan will be launched on February 12, 7am at Third Place Cafe.

Corie Haddock, services manager and co-chairman of the New Zealand Coalition to End Homelessness, said a working party made up of representatives from community organisations had been researching and developing the plan for almost two years.

Data from the Salvation Army, Rotorua District Presbyterian Church and other agencies showed more people needed help because they were homeless.

In 2013, they worked with 138 individuals or families who said they were homeless and needed help. This increased to 178 in 2014 and was at 170 from January to September 2015.

Of those needing help in 2015, 83 per cent were living with friends or family while trying to find accommodation and 16.5 per cent said they were rough sleepers.

Mr Haddock said home-lessness was defined as people who were living on the streets, in cars or inappropriate dwellings. He said over-crowding was often an issue in Rotorua and accommodation quality was having an impact.

"This is the start, the next step is rolling out the plan, that's the exciting part. Our goal is to end homelessness in Rotorua.

"This is something that Rotorua should be proud of, it's the first community-based homelessness action plan ever.

"We would love to see a big turnout, as much as possible. We want the community to take ownership," Mr Haddock said.

Salvation Army Community Ministries manager Shelly Fischer said housing troubles were never-ending.

"People get desperate so they all live together and we get families that come to us because they have nowhere else to go and we can't turn them away so we take them in, but that isn't a long-term solution," Ms Fischer said.

The Rotorua Night Shelter Trust unsuccessfully tried to set up a night shelter in Rotorua.

"When that dissolved there were a lot of meetings held up at the council about it and they tried to formulate a long-term plan as to how they were going to deal with homelessness, this is how the working party's plan came about."

St Luke's Rotorua Reverend Alex Czerwonka was a committee member of the night shelter trust which wound up at the end of 2014 and was now involved with the working party.

"The goal is to have a multi-agency approach to assisting homeless people. Towards the end of the life of the Night Shelter Trust that is what we were working for and now that is part of the working party's ethos."

Councillor Janet Wepa said the good thing about the working party was community groups working together.

"We, as a council, have given them support along the way and we will continue to support them. It's about helping people gain skills that can help them get into long-term accommodation," she said.

The Working Party:

* Rotorua Salvation Army

* Community Facing Ministries (St John)

* Community Probation Service

* Te Waiariki Purea Trust

* Ngati Whakaue

* Te Arawa Whanau Ora

* Lifewise Rotorua

* Rotorua District Presbyterian Church

* Ministry of Social Development

* Support from the Rotorua Lakes Council

- Rotorua Daily Post

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