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'High time' to tackle homelessness - community ministry

By ONE News reporter Kristin Hall

Published: 4:11PM Thursday October 10, 2013 Source: ONE News

The director of Wellington's Downtown Community Ministry has used World Homeless Day to highlight the need for more affordable rental properties for the city's homeless.

The ministry works with Wellington's homeless and today put on an event in Civic Square.

Director Stephanie McIntyre said rough sleepers in the CBD were just the "tip of the iceberg".

"A new study that's come out has actually shown that people doubling up in houses, and that kind of invisible homelessness, is enormous in New Zealand and it's high time we started to do something about it," she said.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said there were some people sleeping under bridges and on the streets in the capital but agreed overcrowding was also a major issue.

"It's fine having a friend on the couch for a night or two but when it gets up to 3, 4, 5 weeks, that's homelessness," she said.

McIntyre applauded the Government's push for more affordable homes but that there needed to be more focus on affordable rental properties.

"There's a vast number of people who can't access housing who actually need a flat or affordable home to rent," she said.

A new University of Otago study has found that 34,000 people suffer "severe housing deprivation".

The study states that on any given night in New Zealand, 1 in 120 people were unable to access housing and that one quarter are children under the age of 15.