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An event to understand homelessness

World Homelessness Day on Monday 10 October will be marked by an event in Aotea Square that will bring the homelessness sector and Aucklanders together to share what it really means to be homeless.

World Homeless Day

World Homeless Day: Te Ao o te kāinga kore.

Auckland Rough Sleepers Initiative

The event will run from 9:30am to 2:30pm and will include information, health promotions, hourly performances and presentations, as well as a human library where people can talk directly and openly with those who have experienced homelessness. There will be a diverse range of arts and crafts, activities, a celebrity ‘cook off’, live music and carving. We will be doing a soft launch of the Āwhina site for users and service providers at this event.

Charlotte Ama from the James Liston Hostel says the day will be focused on highlighting the plight of our homeless and will take the time to reflect on the increase in numbers of people experiencing homelessness in our own backyard.

“Homelessness is something that should be talked about openly and with energy every day until there is a solution to it. But in recognition of World Homelessness Day as a global effort in raising awareness, we’ve chosen this day to bring together those working in the sector and those with past or current experiences of homelessness to share their knowledge and experience with the public,” says Charlotte.

“Creating dialogue is key to breaking down the stigma associated with being homeless and finding new pathways to improving the health and wellbeing of those going through it.”

“As the inflated Auckland housing market leaves more and more people homeless in its wake, it is important that we do not become complacent and accept homelessness as a by-product of the crisis. Whilst there are many drivers to becoming homeless and no ‘one size fits all’ remedy to this issue, it’s vital that we don’t lose sight of the fact that having shelter is a fundamental human right, ” Charlotte says.

The event, which is funded by Auckland Council, is a collaboration by the collective of organisations working in the Auckland homelessness sector, who come together under the banners of the ‘Auckland Rough Sleepers Initiative’ and the ‘Rough Sleepers Steering Group’. Both groups work with interested agencies to improve the experience of those sleeping rough and to keep the issue of homelessness on the public agenda.

Those wanting to hear exactly how the sector is working with homeless Aucklanders can talk to organisations on the day such as Lifewise who are leading on the Housing First Project in the central city. It’s a collaborative project with a range of stakeholders and uses a world renowned model to house the most complex chronic rough sleepers. The project is currently going through a robust design phase with a target implementation date of December 2016.

“Our hope is that people come away from the event with a different perspective on homelessness – an understanding that it is a deeply complex issue effecting real human beings,” says Charlotte.

“I think anyone who comes along on the day will leave with a real sense that they’ve learned something important.”

For more information about the Auckland World Homelessness Day Event please contact:

Charlotte Ama
James Liston Emergency Housing Provider
Phone – 09 376 3885
Mobile – 021 714 797
Email –

Sleeping rough to end homelessness

Now in its 7th year, The Lifewise Big Sleepout sets out to raise serious cash to tackle the serious issue of homelessness in Auckland. Many lives have been and will continue to be turned around as a result of this event.

It all started back in 2010 when 60 business, community and political leaders slept on cold concrete for one night. Together they raised over $100,000 to support the work of Lifewise’s Crisis Response and Housing team.

The next event will take place mid 2017. It will raise critical awareness of homelessness and how Housing First can end this growing problem.

All funds raised go directly to support Lifewise’s highly successful ‘no band aids’ approach to homelessness.

To find out more about the Lifewise Big Sleepout and to donate please visit

Lifewise thanks all those who make the Big Sleepout such a success – the participants, the volunteers and the companies who donate goods and resources.

Homelessness: What can the Mayor do?

Every Mayor wants to do something they will be remembered for. Could Auckland’s new one become famous for ending chronic homelessness?

In many cities that are ending chronic homelessness there is a common factor: strong Mayoral leadership in bringing together communities, service providers, government and social agencies. What Auckland needs is a housing strategy and a Mayor who is audacious enough to develop one. We say audacious because the Mayor has to acknowledge that some tough decisions need to be made. And some imaginative thinking is in order too, as Council needs to grapple courageously with what government will and won’t do.

We see this as a fitting challenge for the new Mayor of Auckland. With that in mind, Lifewise held a special briefing at Merge Café, where the Housing First Project was presented to a number of Auckland mayoral candidates.

We were very pleased by the interest shown and the questions raised. One of these raised more questions in my mind: When does the Housing First process stop? The short answer is it does not have to stop. For the long answer, let’s understand what Housing First involves.

The process, as it were, begins when a homeless person decides they want a home. Ideally, they also decide the type and location of their home and also whether and who they want to live with. Any support or wrap-around services they need are put in place by collaboration amongst service providers, social agencies, and government. These services may include mental health and alcohol and drug treatment, or day-to-day budgeting of household expenses. The wrap-around services continue for as long as the person needs them. And even afterwards, these services remain available. This is why the Housing First process does not have to stop.

We know that all this costs money, which is why we want homelessness to end, for wrap-around services to become unnecessary. But how can that happen unless wider issues related to homelessness are addressed: poverty, disconnection from family and whanau supports, and inequality, for example. Can we ensure job security; a regular, liveable income? Can we protect our most vulnerable Kiwis from losing their home? Can we build strong supportive communities so more people can feel like they belong, like they also matter?

With 41,000 homeless New Zealanders at last count, it’s no secret that this problem has reached countrywide proportions. Meanwhile here in Auckland, over 20,000 people are homeless: That’s 49% of the nation’s total. We have among the highest prevalence of homelessness — 14 people per every 1000 Aucklanders experience homelessness.

Addressing these numbers with policy decisions and funding budgets for building more homes are on the central government’s to-do list. However, it is up to the Mayor to listen closely to the people of their city, understand what they need, and bring together the services and support to help them.

Social agencies like Lifewise always welcome government support, be it via funding to keep our services going or through the expertise that a collaborative venture like Housing First requires. However, without a housing strategy for putting solutions into practice and measuring the results, we risk disappointment.

Our goal of ending chronic homelessness is indeed ambitious – some might say, audacious, too – but this goal is not impossible. It’s going to need a concerted effort and sustained focus, over longer than just one Mayor’s term in office. And that can be the legacy they leave behind.

[This post first appeared on The Daily Blog on 23 September 2016]