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Watch NZH Local Focus: Homeless flock to warm Napier weather

By Kaysha Brownlie

Thomas Mill, or 'Millsy' has been sleeping rough in Napier - on and off for the last 46 years.

"It is nice and warm and hot for people on the streets here."

And he says more and more homeless people are realising that if you don't have a roof over your head - it pays to live in a balmy climate like this.

"It's a lifestyle people end up liking."

Some have been forced out of homes in the district - but others are shifting from other - colder and more expensive - parts of New Zealand

"Things to do with housing people can't afford the rents and everything's just rocketing, food everything, you see a lot of people on the streets now because people just can't afford it."

But, he says elected officials ignore the problem at their own peril.

"The local bodies and that, I think we should be coming around the table because there's going to be more and more people in Napier now that the good weather's coming on, and they are coming because we can see it every day with the homeless coming in."

In 2015 Napier City Council set up a cross sector group to address homelessness.

Involved is Whatever It Takes - a community agency that runs an outreach service and meets with the homeless three times a week.

Whatever It Takes General Manager Caroline Lampp says Hawke's Bay is "a bit out of the limelight".

"We're not either in Auckland, which is the major city in New Zealand, or in Wellington, where the major seat in government is. The regions are a bit out of sight out of mind so we don't get the focus nationally that other places do, but our problems are just as significant as other places."

Caroline Lampp says there is a seasonal influx of homeless due to Hawke's Bay's good weather.

She estimates there to be about 40 currently living on the streets, but there is a new housing programme in the pipeline which should help alleviate this.

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- NZ Herald

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