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We need a strategy to address homelessness

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Parity, 30(8), 11-12

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Zussman and Cairncross of Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA) present an urgent call for a strategic approach to address New Zealand's escalating homelessness crisis.

Utilising data from the 2013 Census and the Ministry of Social Development, they highlight the significant rise in homelessness, including an increase in households waiting for social housing and the prevalence of employed individuals among them. CHA’s report stresses that the current government measures, while commendable, are mostly reactive and fail to address the root causes of homelessness. They propose a comprehensive strategy with the goal of making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring, emphasising affordable housing as a basic human right. The paper advocates for both national and regional strategies, coordinated by the government, to ensure culturally appropriate service delivery. Zussman and Cairncross emphasise the need for a complete documentation of homelessness in New Zealand to effectively allocate resources and deliver appropriate services. They recommend a safety net that includes emergency housing and access to Housing First options, alongside a sufficient supply of social and affordable homes. The authors draw insights from international experts, citing the United States’ relative success in addressing homelessness through a well-structured plan backed by reliable data and broad agreement among various levels of government and NGOs. They highlight the importance of a united approach to solving homelessness, stressing the need for strategic changes in service delivery, contracting environment, and collaboration across sectors. The paper concludes by underscoring the collective responsibility and readiness required to effectively tackle homelessness in New Zealand, reflecting on advice from Nan Roman, an American expert on homelessness. This insightful report outlines the complexities of homelessness in New Zealand and presents a clear framework for developing a targeted and coordinated response.

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