Homelessness is a growing issue across our city and many people want to help, but they don't know how.

Since an article in the Rotorua Daily Post two weeks ago highlighting the issue, a number of people have made contact to see how they can help and many said they just didn't know how.

There is a growing number of homeless people in Rotorua, many of whom have a job, but can't find an affordable place to live as the rental shortage worsens.

It's estimated there are up to 20 vehicles parked around Rotorua's lakefronts with people who don't have houses.

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And it's not just in Rotorua. A tour to alert the country of the homeless "crisis" is underway, with Labour's Housing spokesman Phil Twyford holding a public meeting in Rotorua late last month.

At that meeting, locals shared their stories of despair and frustration.

Labour has joined the Maori and Green parties in conducting a Cross Party Inquiry into Homelessness - something Housing Minister Paula Bennett tells the Rotorua Daily Post is "a step backwards".

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She said the government had a comprehensive plan to help those who urgently needed a home.

Waiariki MP and Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell from Rotorua said he had acted as a catalyst to bring together community groups to try and tackle the issue, and he would encourage these people to come forward.

He said they had their third meeting last week where they discussed what they would be doing next.

"We have established a base at the marae. All the agencies are under the hammer, especially now that people know they can go and get emergency housing.

"One of the issues is long term, it's not just housing that is the issue, people need financial, mental, and social help."

He said they were going to continue in the direction they'd been in, providing housing and workshops to help through the number of community agencies already active in Rotorua.

"There are groups around that are willing to help, if you want to help you just need to approach one of them."

Liz Nelson, social worker at Salvation Army Community Ministries, said if people had a way they wanted to help they just needed to make contact.

"If they have spare or emergency accommodation that's fantastic. They can call me and let me know, even if they just have short term rent.

"There's always the option of advocating for someone you know at Work and Income. They are very shy some homeless, I'd say you just need to keep asking if they are okay and if there is anything you can do.

"It's good to have the different community groups here, for instance, the Salvation Army has Foodbank, Love Soup has this and that and so on.

"It's just about being a nice person. If you see someone who is homeless and you have a spare blanket then give it to them. I think we really need to be a community where we just pay it forward."

Love Soup Rotorua founder Gina Peiffer said there were a few ways the community could contribute to what they do.

"Food donations always come in handy."

She said this was especially so with the basics, such as tea, coffee, milk and other dairy products.

The community could also contribute to care packages which they gave to people who they had housed, she said.

This included non-perishable food and items such as toiletries and linen.

Love Soup Rotorua is also in need of storage facilities, as their services are run from their home, and they need more room to store the likes of furniture, clothing, dishes and linen, she said.

She said petrol vouchers would also be useful, as they spent a large amount on petrol doing things such as meeting people, taking them to see houses and going to WINZ to advocate for people.

-Additional reporting by Shauni James

Community agencies:
Love Soup Rotorua: Gina Peiffer (020) 402 95203
Rotorua Salvation Army Community Ministries: (07) 346 8113
Lifewise Rotorua - Lifewise Mental Health and Addictions Services: (07) 3486 239