Homelessness in Rotorua is a problem that is not going away nor is it an easy fix, according to local advocates working to solve the issue.

The problem is reaching unprecedented levels in New Zealand and is increasingly affecting working families, an unofficial inquiry by opposition parties has found.

Labour, the Greens and the Maori Party released the results of their cross-party inquiry earlier this week after holding public hearings around the country.

Love Soup Rotorua co-founder Elmer Peiffer said the issue of homelessness had taken too long to get sorted.


"We knew it would eventually blow out of proportion," he said.

"If this plan has anything in the short term then maybe it will help, but we need something in the now."

Shelly Fischer (front) and Ralph Overbye believe more needs to be done to address the issue of homelessness. Photo/Ben Fraser
Shelly Fischer (front) and Ralph Overbye believe more needs to be done to address the issue of homelessness. Photo/Ben Fraser

The cross-party inquiry concluded the steps taken so far by the Government were in its view insufficient. Its report included 20 recommendations for the Government.

One was to make Housing First the primary response to severe homelessness. The model, which originated in Canada, is based on the idea people should be placed in housing before issues such as addiction or mental health are addressed.

Others included increasing the state housing stock, addressing issues such as housing affordability and property speculation and creating a national strategy to end homelessness.

The Government has said it would consider the report but does not expect it to uncover anything new.

Rotorua Salvation Army community ministries manager and budget adviser Shelly Fischer said she thought the issue was getting worse in Rotorua.

"It's going to get a lot worse with summer coming up because the motels want to cater to the tourists, not the homeless."

She said she thought the inquiry's idea of "housing first" was "really good - in theory".

"There are situations when there are families who have relocated for work and if they were going to provide a house for those kinds of people they would be quite successful.

"Those who have lost their home or are going through difficult social situations, then just putting them in a house and not dealing with their other issues isn't going to solve the problem," she said.

"There's no quick solution. We have been working on this for a few years now and if people had taken interest in it before it became a problem we wouldn't be here."

Waiariki MP and Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said the inquiry "really just told us what we already know".

He said his office had been working closely with other organisations in Rotorua on providing support to the homeless.

"It is good that there is now a consolidated report that has been produced by the three parties involved and hopefully the recommendations made will be considered by the Government."

He said he believed more support was needed across the board, not just in Auckland.

"Rotorua is only second to Auckland in terms of where Ministry of Social Development emergency housing assistance money is going," he said.

"It's not just about money though. Ministry of Social Development and Housing New Zealand need to improve the way they work with whanau who are dealing with stressful situations already, help needs to be given faster with less bureaucracy."