Rates of homeless Māori in Auckland should be a wake-up call, experts say

Experts on homelessness say figures showing Māori are a disproportionate number of those sleeping rough in Auckland should be a wake-up call to fix the problem.

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The government will spend an extra $200 million to expand the Housing First programme, and Māori are expected to benefit from the boost to house the homeless.
Photo: 123rf

The first city-wide census of people living without shelter shows nearly 43 percent were Māori, with a similar proportion living in temporary accommodation.

Waikato-based public health physician Polly Atatoa Carr is also associate professor at the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis.

She said although the figures about Māori representation in homelessness were unjust and unfair, she hoped they would provide impetus for change.

“What we’re seeing here with this overrepresentation of Māori in homelessness is also a wake up call for us to think about the pathways into homelessness, and the overrepresentation of Maori in those pathways and in those systems,” said Dr Atatoa Carr.

“We can advocate community action through the power of information. Without that information, without that narrative, it’s very difficult to ensure that the strategies we have are led appropriately and are implemented appropriately and evaluated to make sure they work for those that need it the most.”

She said the story was similar in Waikato, where research found 70 percent of those living without a permanent home were Māori.

It doesn’t take long to find someone whose family is effected by homelessness in our biggest city.

Arianna, whose heritage is Ngāti Tuwharetoa and Ngāpuhi, has family members who are living rough on the streets and in temporary accommodation.

“It hurts because our culture is so whānau orientated that it’s hard to believe that it is mostly Māori out there. A lot of them have got disabilities and we can’t help them.”

She said beyond what whānau could offer, it was hard to know how to help.

At the weekend, the government said it would spend an extra $200 million to expand the Housing First programme, and Māori are expected to benefit from the boost to house the homeless.

A member of The Collective in Auckland, Lifewise, said so far more than 90 people, formerly chronic rough sleepers, were now living in warm homes.

Published at Thu, 16 May 2019 07:19:51 +0000
Source: Rates of homeless Māori in Auckland should be a wake-up call, experts say