Hutt at Heart

Last of Council’s homelessness services ready to go

The last piece in Hutt City Council’s response to homelessness is now in place.

Funding for Council’s Homelessness Strategy was signed off earlier this year, and the last of three contracts aimed at helping homeless people into sustainable tenancies and supporting those at risk of becoming homeless has been finalised.

Tākiri Mai te Ata Whānau Ora Collective, a collaboration of seven Māori health and social service providers and marae, will help whānau and individuals, under threat of losing their tenancies, from becoming homeless. The collective has been working with whānau in the Hutt Valley for more than four decades. It will start providing this service early in the New Year.

Council Chief Executive Jo Miller says with Māori over-represented in homelessness statistics, it’s vital we have an organisation that can work with whānau and has their trust.

“We know that whānau in our poorer communities are the first to become homeless, and the tragic truth is that Māori are suffering disproportionately from the effects of poverty, partly driven by the steep rent rises we’ve seen in recent years.”

The collective, which can call on a broad range of social, housing, education and health services, will focus on providing early intervention support for those living in private rentals in Lower Hutt and facing the likelihood of becoming homeless. While the collective can specialise in supporting Māori, the service is open to anyone in danger of losing their homes.

The collective’s Manager Homelessness Prevention Lynda Ryan says Tākiri Mai te Ata has witnessed both an increase in homelessness in Lower Hutt in recent years and increasing complexities around keeping whānau in their homes.

“Homelessness is on the increase, but there really haven’t been many solutions out there for whānau. You walk into a home to provide services for a whānau and there are other whānau sleeping on couches or in the garage or wherever else.”

Two other providers have contracts with Council to implement the Homelessness Strategy. The Tuatahi Centre is working with landlords and investors to establish and support its clients into sustainable tenancies, and Community Law will start provide housing advice and advocacy for those experiencing homelessness or housing hardship in the New Year.

Council has allocated $1.6 million over three years to implement the Homelessness Strategy. It will be reviewed after three years.

The most recent figures show Lower Hutt has the highest number of emergency housing grants paid out to accommodate homeless families and individuals in motels in the Wellington region. More than 400 households were on the social housing waiting list.

Tākiri Mai te Ata Whānau Ora Collective comprises: Kōkiri Marae Keriana Olsen Trust, Kōkiri Marae Māori Women’s Refuge, Mana Wāhine, Nāku Ēnei Tamariki, Tu Kotahi Māori Asthma and Research Trust, Wainuiomata Marae and Whai Oranga o te Iwi Health Centre.

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