Safe places needed for homeless to sleep


There are more homeless people than ever, and safe places to sleep are both essential and in short supply.

Dunedin’s Night Shelter Trust says immediate and long-term solutions are essential.

The Night Shelter currently provides beds, bathroom and laundry facilities for six homeless people. It’s fundraising to provide for six more.

That’s just a temporary solution to a huge, long-term problem. In Dunedin, there are at present about 3,000 homeless people.

“We need a city-wide homelessness solution that makes us all feel proud” the Night Shelter Trust says.

The wider problem involves providing “homes plus the support people needed”.

To achieve this, vision, leadership and financial backing are needed. Those attributes could provide “transformational results” the Trust says.

Immediate need

Right now, the Night Shelter needs $510,000 for building alterations (consent already granted) to enlarge its accommodation.

Limited capacity has seen people turned away and rules developed so people can’t stay too long or too often.

Permanent solutions are elusive. Support to homeless people is intermittent. Some have serious needs.

Some people fall through the cracks: people with challenges such as addiction, illness, mental illness, intellectual disability and convictions. Some homeless people the Trust sees are very young.

While some adults are provided with supported living, others miss out and are “left having to navigate health and social agencies without advocacy” the Trust notes.

Longer term solutions

To better support people, the Trust believes it’s necessary to have case managers with a focus on “relationship building that achieves results”.

Case managers could work to achieve solutions by creating an environment in which their clients can thrive and have control of their lives.

The Dunedin City Council’s objective of functional zero homelessness is heartening, the Trust says. The objective envisions more people leaving the situation than entering it.

One positive way to achieve this could be for the Council to “to take the lead” alongside other agencies to “enable the delivery of a more comprehensive service”.

Another option would be to create a City Mission in Dunedin that’s the equivalent of the Auckland City Mission (ACM).

The ACM’s newly-built facility incorporates the HomeGround apartment building, with its on-site health and social services, along with an outreach service that locates homeless people and enables them to accept help.

At present, Dunedin’s support services could be “quite siloed” because of limited funding and service criteria.

Government support absent

Central government funding for services in the South is “not prioritised” compared with other parts of the country, the Trust says.

It notes no agency in Dunedin is funded to deliver Housing First. That’s the government programme that aims to provide homes and support for people who have been homeless for at least a year.

The number of homes being built by the council and Kainga Ora were also “not enough” says the Trust.

“People are stuck on waiting lists for housing and their situation can deteriorate in the meantime, with flow-on costs to health and mental health services — and prisons.”


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