How to end rough sleeping and begging in Auckland city

rough sleeping and begging

Heart of the City and the City Centre Residents Group say it’s time for recent investment in housing and support services to bring an end to rough sleeping and begging on our city centre streets.

This is a critical time to act and deliver on a significant opportunity for our city.

We now have purpose-built facilities and services that we hope can collectively meet the needs of those who require support. People should not have to sleep on our streets or put their hand out for money.

We know that visitors do not expect to see so many people sleeping/begging on our streets when they come here. And we know that people care about the welfare of those in need.

If everyone who needs it gets the support they require, this will be a great example for our city to set and something to be proud of.

After significant public and private investment that we have both supported, we are hopeful that there is sufficient capacity currently to achieve this aspiration.

Not sometime in the distant future but now, before the situation gets worse and it is harder to turn around.

A number of purpose-built facilities have opened in the city centre in recent years, which offer housing and specialised wrap-around services.

The James Liston hostel for emergency housing was refurbished and reopened in 2019. Auckland City Mission’s HomeGround opened in 2022, a shining example of housing and holistic healing facilities.

Then, just a few weeks ago, the Te Mātāwai facility opened at Grey’s Avenue, which includes housing for rough sleepers and 24/7 on-site support.

These facilities offer a tremendous opportunity for thoughtful placement and care that has not previously been available.

Additionally, Heart of the City’s Street Guardians programme, which started five years ago in partnership with Auckland City Mission, offers a positive alternative to begging that currently operates two days per week.

Now there are quality facilities like these up and running, we want to see an urgent and co-ordinated drive to ensure that everyone on our streets who needs help gets it quickly.

With social needs met by professionals, there also needs to be focused attention on addressing the bad behaviour that people do not expect to see on our streets either.

This has noticeably risen through Covid, and it needs to be addressed before it becomes entrenched.

It is another basic thing we must get right as a city, and it is particularly important to act quickly to attract more people to live, work and study here after the ravaging impact of Covid on the city centre.

We are calling on the Auckland Council to make urgent changes to its public nuisance by-laws and compliance mechanisms, so there are clearer standards of what is and what is not acceptable on city streets and how this can be effectively enforced.

While there is a growing community safety response, there also needs to be a much stronger police presence in the city centre to better reflect the number of people here.

A police station has been sorely missed, and we want it returned. This will send a clear signal that crime and violence will not be tolerated.

People want streets they feel comfortable and safe in, and by acting quickly, we can and must achieve this for everyone.

  • Viv Beck is Chief Executive, Heart of the City – the business association for the city centre.
  • Adam Parkinson is a spokesman for the City Centre Residents Group, which represents residents living in the city centre.
  • First published in the NZ Herald. Republished with the authors’ permission.
Additional reading

News category: Analysis and Comment.

Tags: , , , , , , ,