Katie Harris's piece in the Herald on Sunday recounting how unsafe she felt walking in Wellington certainly struck a chord.
If you didn't see it, Katie, a young journalist in NZME's Wellington office, says she feels too unsafe to walk in the capital city on her own. She says she wasn't taught to be afraid.
As a girl in Christchurch, she would walk her dog at night. As a student at Canterbury University, she was happy to do the late night snack run. But in Wellington, taking a walk isn't an option for many because of the multiple serious assaults, the catcalling and the general harassment.
Wellington list MP Nicola Willis and several Wellington city councillors said they too felt unsafe in the city, and the police acknowledged Wellington was over-represented in incidents of assault and disorder.
It's not just women who feel unsafe. Plenty of men rang my talkback show to say they too wouldn't venture out in the city at night.
I quoted Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson, who is the MP for Wellington Central. He said he had no personal concerns about the safety of central city streets and he spent a lot of time in Wellington central.
Really? Said Mike, who's a rubbish truck driver in Wellington. He does the early morning shift around central Wellington, from 2am 'til 6am. He says he's been doing that run for 18 years and in the past 12 months, it's become incredibly scary because of the number of gang members living in emergency housing. Mike says he also does the Parliament rubbish run, and if Grant Robertson thinks it's safe out there, he's quite happy to pick up the Deputy Prime Minister and take him round the back streets in the early morning so he can see what they are seeing.
Mike put his finger on what the problem was – in Wellington and around the country.
We had so many texts and callers who all said the same thing. Where there was a sudden influx of people needing emergency housing, the incidents of disorderly behaviour rose incrementally.
People living in Rotorua, Hamilton, Auckland and Wellington had similar experiences.
There are about 2000 homeless people living in 45 motels in Rotorua, for example and again, there has been a sharp spike in criminal activity. Obviously, not all people living in emergency housing are disruptive. But you simply cannot a large group of people with complex needs into one small area and not expect there to be repercussions.
The number of people in emergency housing tripled in Wellington in the past year and last September a Wellington City Council report showed that anti-social behaviour and crime was occurring every hour of every day at Te Aro Park.
The police promised to put extra resources into the city but drive-bys in patrol cars doesn't cut the mustard. Police need to walk the beat, to get to know the people within the community and to let people get to know them because a visible police presence is one of the most effective ways of reducing crime.
This Government, when it came into office, promised one of its priorities would be reducing homelessness. Instead, on this Government's watch, we have seen the numbers on the public housing waitlist explode from 6182 households to 22,521. It's an absolute disgrace. As is spending nearly a million dollars a day to keep people in a holding pattern in motels and hotels. If the $1 million a day was being spent improving people's lives, upskilling them, helping them with physical and mental health issues, putting a roof over their heads, fine. But $1 million a day with absolutely nothing to show for it …?
Again, it's a disgrace. This Government can only hide behind Covid for so long before it must confront the real issues facing this country – the very issues it said it would resolve if it was elected.