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Public invited to have say on homelessness

People who are homeless, those who were once homeless, those working with the homeless and concerned New Zealanders are being asked to share their experiences and solutions to this growing issue with the Cross-Party Homelessness Inquiry.

This inquiry was launched after National MPs turned down Opposition requests for a Parliamentary select committee inquiry into the issue.

Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says many New Zealanders are shocked and saddened by the number of families being forced to live in cars and garages this winter.

“We want to hear from those families and the agencies working with them about the best ways to support them and reduce the reasons they lose their homes in the first place.”

Green Party Social Housing spokesperson Marama Davidson says homelessness is not confined to those who sleep rough on the streets.

“There are many, many families who have no choice but to sleep in overcrowded garages, or in their cars. It hasn’t always been this way in New Zealand, and it doesn’t have to continue like this.”

Māori Party Co-Leader Marama Fox says this issue is too important to use as a political football.

“Homelessness is a blight on our society and we need to work together to find enduring solutions. This is a valuable opportunity for us to hear more from whānau, experts and those most impacted.”

Submissions will initially be heard at four locations: Te Puea Marae in Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch between the end of August and early September.

The terms of reference for the inquiry are:

Consider whether the official definition of homelessness needs updating, and recommend accordingly.

Assess the evidence on the current scale of homelessness, whether it is changing and how, and what the causes of that change might be.

Evaluate possible policy responses to homelessness, including international best practice, and recommend accordingly.

Consider how homelessness is experienced by different groups in society and evaluate policy responses that respond to that experience. For example, Maori experience of homelessness and Maori-led initiatives to respond

Hear public submissions and expert evidence, particularly from those directly affected by homelessness and their advocates, and issue a written report.

Submissions open Monday and will close on Friday, 12 August and can be sent to: Homelessnessinquiry@parliament.govt.nz

Submissions can also be made through the Labour and Green Party websites from next week.