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Collaborative effort needed for our homeless

Opinion Piece

Re: Premises for night shelter required, May 24 letter.

And what of our local marae and churches, are they only available for worshippers, mourners and dignitaries? Do the homeless and needy not meet the kaupapa requirements of these establishments? It does require a community effort to be sure Tairawhiti!

Charmaine Fouhy

Thank you Charmaine, I guess it’s the same reason people with a spare room don’t billet the homeless and why people with an empty holiday home don’t let out their homes to the homeless or, worse, why sheds or single rooms with shared facilities become homes and at a huge cost. Freedom camping may alleviate the financial burden of those options that are otherwise not fit for purpose.

I’d like to think everyone wants to help and we all come from a heart of compassion, but it’s the fear of the unknown I guess — instinctively understanding that homelessness has some deep roots, as it takes a community to cause homelessness, not just the person or families experiencing homelessness. Homelessness is a symptom of a distressed community. Then people and communities don’t know how to help and may not be resourced to help.

So let’s get a central place to meet and hui, then turn that into action.

As someone who has lived in a tent for six months in winter in another city that was short on rentals, due to an influx in seasonal workers (who lived in overcrowded conditions), it was a shaming, distressing and embarrassing circumstance — therefore hard to accept help even when it was offered. That was around 18 years ago. The pitter patter of rain on a home roof is a rhythmic sound and you know there is protection between you and that rain, but in a dome tent that rain sounds like a freight train coming for you. I remember it well 18 years on.

Lizz Crawford

A newly-named Church, Oasis Community Church, has recently offered space and is in communication with leaders of other groups concerned to hui and pull our resources together to address this need for our homeless. However, there are far wider issues around homelessness than just the homeless that have to be to be addressed to properly cater for these people . . . so we’re working on it.

Tom Crawford

Thank you Lizz Crawford and to your Dad, Tom. We know this is the first big hurdle to overcome. Bureaucracy awaits on the horizon as do the challenges of getting this up and running sooner rather than later. However, the small but dedicated team will continue to strive to achieve their goal. Even so, it has to be a wider collaborative community effort and to this end it would be great to have representatives from the likes of the Council, Police, DHB, HNZ, HofG/Roundtable, Iwi/Runanga, Community organisations, etc, on board to assist with an effective and rapid transition.

Guy Baker