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Hastings homelessness study gives direction for future solutions

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Homelessness is a serious and growing reality in Hastings, and the focus of a new study commissioned by Hastings District Council to help inform further actions to address the issue.

Hastings has one of the highest rates of housing deprivation in New Zealand, with 4.6 per cent of the population in emergency housing, including people who are living in the open – eating, sleeping and staying in public spaces.

The study is one element of a work programme set out in the Kāinga Paneke, Kāinga Pānuku – Hastings Medium and Long Term Housing Strategy, which builds on the Hastings Place Based Housing Plan that was created in 2019.

The overarching goal of both plans was to bring government, iwi, Council and community support groups together to find solutions to the housing crisis – providing people with safe, stable, healthy affordable homes, supported by thriving, resilient communities with access to education, employment and amenities.

One part of the Kāinga Paneke, Kāinga Pānuku programme was to conduct the study to understand the characteristics, needs and causes of homelessness in Hastings, and identify initiatives that could be taken to improve the lives of those without a permanent roof over their heads.

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said this was an important step in trying to bring the different agencies together to work collectively to improve the lives of those who live with the insecurity of not having a safe, stable home.

“This is an important part of the work we are doing as part of the Hastings Place Based Housing Plan to provide public, affordable, transitional and papakāinga housing in Hastings.

“This study has found that there are anywhere between 30 to 50 people in the district who don’t have a permanent residence, and may be grappling with other challenges with their mental health, family issues or addiction.

“We have some fantastic support agencies who are already working with our people to offer them support, and this study gives us important, useful information we can all use to try and find more comprehensive and cohesive practical solutions.”

At today’s Hastings District Council strategy and policy committee meeting, councillors endorsed the study and also approved a number of actions to follow-up, aligned to the Aotearoa New Zealand Homelessness Action Plan strategic framework.

These included forming a regional taskforce with iwi partners, the homeless, and regional and local agencies.

At the same time work would continue through the Hastings Place Based Housing Plan to identify social and community housing opportunities, and research would be undertaken with homeless people themselves to understand their situation and challenges.

The development and feasibility of an integrated community hub for homeless people that provides wrap around support services, possibly including overnight accommodation, would also be investigated.

2 November 2021

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