The Labour Party will promise today to "eradicate" homelessness through its root causes, including helping teenagers to find somewhere to live if they can't get on with their parents.

The party's policy for the homeless, to be unveiled in Hamilton today by housing spokeswoman Moana Mackey, will also propose tighter regulation and a mandatory register for boarding houses.

Labour recently pushed for an inquiry into boarding houses by Parliament's social services select committee after Ms Mackey found what she called "disgusting" conditions in some Wellington boarding houses. But the inquiry was cut short when Parliament rose for the election.

Ms Mackey, a Gisborne-based list MP, said there was no coherent policy on homelessness because the issue fell between agencies such as Housing NZ, the Ministry of Social Development and the Department of Building and Housing.

Advertisement

"In Gisborne we have no emergency accommodation. There was an ex-nurses' home that came up for sale, but there was not a single Government department that would even think about it. There is no responsibility for emergency accommodation," she said.

Labour will promise to give control of homelessness and emergency accommodation to one agency.

Ms Mackey said the party would also reverse a recent Housing NZ decision to stop helping its tenants with their "wider social needs".

She will tell the NZ Coalition to End Homelessness annual meeting today that Labour would hold a ministerial inquiry into homelessness to provide the groundwork for a national strategy with a focus on prevention and early intervention. "Most people get into homelessness when they are young, whether falling out with their family or escaping from serious abuse," she said.

"If you are under 18 it's very difficult to get income support and impossible to get housing support. They have nowhere to go and a lot of them end up homeless."

She said teenagers could be offered mediation with their parents or placed with other family members. Iwi and other non-government agencies could help if teens were too scared to apply for benefits. "When you have young girls sleeping under a bridge you have to do something."