New Zealand’s government has vowed to get the country’s entire homeless population off the streets before winter hits the country next month.
“We’re pulling out all the stops to make sure that no one needs to be without shelter or living in a car this winter,” New Zealand Housing Minister Phil Twyford told As It Happens host Carol Off.
“The country’s been shocked, I think, by the scale of homelessness, particularly over the last couple winters.”
Housing and poverty are the two most pressing concerns for New Zealanders, a recent Ipsos poll found, reports the New Zealand Herald.
Some 40,000 people in the country — or one in 10 — are either homeless or living in crowded or substandard housing conditions, according to a 2013 census analysis.
Of those, 10 per cent are chronically homeless people with “complex and challenging issues” such as addiction and mental illness, Twyford said.
The rest, he said, are students and the working poor, who “just cannot find affordable rental housing and they have just fallen afoul of a complete meltdown of the housing market.”
The government has earmarked $100 million ($90 million Cdn) into tackling homelessness in this month’s budget.
Of that, $37 million will be spent on emergency and transitional housing.
That includes the addition of 1,500 short-term shelter houses, which should be in place by the end of winter.
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