Urgent housing survey stance slammed

By john.maslin@wanganuichronicle.co.nz, John Maslin

The stance of Housing Corporation New Zealand (HCNZ) when approached to take part in an emergency housing survey, has been admonished by a Wanganui district councillor.

A survey, instigated by YMCA Central in Wanganui, followed last year's closure of Project Jericho, the emergency housing units run by Christian Social Services Wanganui, aimed at finding out if there was sufficient housing of this type.

In all, about 100 organisation and accommodation providers in the city were invited to take part in the survey and almost half of them responded. But Marie Gorinski, a council policy analyst told the council's community and environment committee meeting that HCNZ did not respond, even though it was the major housing provider for people in need in Wanganui.

Ms Gorinski said the corporation was asked about the number of people waiting for housing in the city but was told that requests for that information had to be made through the lengthy Official Information Act process.

Councillor Sue Westwood told the committee she was staggered with HCNZ's response for information.

Mrs Westwood said it was an issue that needed to be taken up with the local MPs.

"How can local organisations function with this sort of response. I find it abhorrent."

Ms Gorinski said funding was being sought to employ a researcher for three months to provide an in-depth analysis of the survey's findings.

Major players in the initial survey were the YMCA, Birthright (Wanganui), the Women's Refuge, Whanganui Prisoners Aid Rehabilitation Society and Christian Social Services Wanganui.

Sian Forster, business development manager YMCA Central, told the committee there could be several definitions of emergency housing and that a lot of the issue remained hidden. "There are no statistics on the numbers of homeless in Wanganui and it's difficult to know where these people needing accommodation can go."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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