Addressing homelessness in the City
Homelessness is a significant and complex issue that Council is becoming increasingly concerned about. The current housing situation in Tauranga has led to an unprecedented number of homeless people in our city, including families and working couples. The reality is that ‘homelessness’ takes many forms, from those who are without any place to call home, to the ‘hidden homeless’ – people who might be staying in night shelters, boarding houses, or living in a car, garage or sleep out without electricity or water.
Homelessness Steering Group
A multi-agency, Homelessness Steering Group was established in Tauranga in June 2016, with the aim of addressing priority gaps for individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Tauranga City Council is working alongside other partners, including Ngati Ranginui, Housing NZ, Ministry of Social Development, Te Tuinga Whanau, Te Puni Kokiri, NZ Police, Bay of Plenty District Health Board, Salvation Army, Tauranga Community Housing Trust, Western Bay of Plenty District Council and SociaLink. By combining efforts, expertise and experience, the Steering Group aims to make significant progress in ensuring all of our community has a safe place to live.
The early focus of the Steering Group was to develop an action plan. Within the plan, the initial priorities included:
- conducting research to better understand the scale and nature of homelessness
- identifying accommodation options for homeless women and families; and
- looking at ways to improve how homeless people can access necessary services.
A research project, undertaken in Tauranga during the latter end of 2016, was completed by a third year undergraduate social work student from Waikato University, Rachel Hatch.
The report aims to determine the pathways and barriers that result in some people becoming and remaining homeless by:
- Determining the size and extent of the homelessness problem in Tauranga
- Describing living environments of those who are homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness
- Identifying issues impacting people due to being homeless
The limitations of the project, which are addressed in full within the report, include the difficulty in capturing data and the accuracy of that data, as well as the limited time frame available to complete the project.
It is also important to note that as a student research project, the report is a ‘conversation starter’ and sets a precedence for gathering data on the scope and nature of homelessness in Tauranga, as well as a base line for future research.
The report highlights key findings and provides an initial evidence base to support the implementation of necessary services and accommodation options that are required to assist homeless people as well as those that are at risk of becoming homeless in our community.
Tauranga's Hidden Homeless Research Report 2016 (1mb pdf)
The Steering Group is investigating the feasibility of providing a housing clinic or hub located in the CBD where people needing housing, or at risk of homelessness, can access the relevant services in one, centralised location. Discussions are also underway about undertaking a feasibility study on an emergency shelter for women.
Increasing the supply of land available for housing
Council is also looking at strategies to deal with homelessness and housing provision in the medium to long term. Tauranga signed a Housing Accord with Government in 2014 to enhance housing affordability by facilitating an increase in land and housing supply, which we are delivering. Over the two years covered by the previous Accord, 11 Special Housing Areas were established, with a total potential yield of 2,970 dwellings – far exceeding the target of 1,400. As of October 2016, a total of 989 new sections had been consented and 198 building consents issued, with more applications in the pipeline. A new Housing Accord was signed in December 2016. Developers are now able to approach Tauranga City Council for a further three years with requests to consider new Special Housing Areas.
We’re also planning ahead for future housing supply and have established Urban Growth Areas across the city with capacity for an additional 10,950 dwellings.
Local agencies and communities provide a comprehensive range of support services for homeless individuals and families. Please see links below:
Last Reviewed: 22/12/2016