Chief Executive of Priority One
Last week Te Tuinga Whānau launched a pathway to reduce homelessness in Tauranga. The campaign goes by the catchphrase ‘Tauranga - a safe anchorage for all’, which captures some of our heritage alongside aspiration for the city that we all want.
The goal to eliminate homelessness by 2025 is a tough one, but completely worthy. While this city is the envy of others in many ways, our overheated housing market and the damage that this causes is not something we should be passive about.
Te Tuinga Whānau is a support services trust. Run by Tommy Kapai Wilson, it takes a family-based approach to helping people in need. While their services are varied, providing people with transitional housing is a core part of their role.
Tommy and his team see people in their time of need, often because they have been displaced from where they have been living. With a very constrained rental market, the outlook is often bleak.
This is an important area from an economic perspective – we want, and deserve, good living standards for our community.
Unfortunately, Tauranga has some poor housing statistics; it is the effect of this on our lower-end income earners that is of most concern – the working poor. Statistically we can see why; Tauranga renters can expect to spend 26 per cent of their income on housing costs, while the New Zealand average is 20 per cent. Emergency housing benefits sit at a little over 1100, around double what it was two years ago.
Te Tuinga Whānau has done a great job looking after the needy during the pandemic, and the time is now right to double down on efforts to eliminate homelessness. A key tool is to provide transitional housing at scale with a community atmosphere and wrap-around services. This gives people the best chance of a more stable future while they gather the means and skills to get back on their feet.
At the launch it was pleasing to see the level of community support behind Tommy and his team, and widespread empathy for those who have found themselves in a difficult situation.
To pull this off, Tommy will need more support, in the form of land, funding and services. It will need to be a whole community effort to make change on this scale, but this project is a worthy recipient of our combined efforts.
Watch this space in the near future for details on how you might be able to help out.