As agreed with its partners, the Lower Hutt Homelessness Strategy aims to:
Work together to end homelessness. Ending homelessness doesn’t mean that no-one will lose their home again. It means that we have a response in place to prevent homelessness whenever possible and that if homelessness occurs, it is rare, brief, and non-recurring.
- Housing is a basic human right: Everyone has the right to housing that is habitable, affordable, suitable and secure
- Person-centred: To give people control and enable them to set their own aims and goals for the future
- Culturally appropriate: An approach and service delivery that meet the needs of all people in Aotearoa
- Collaborative action: Working together and taking action.
- Preventing homelessness
- Improving the supply of suitable accommodation and support for people experiencing homelessness
- End rough sleeping - help people who are street homeless, or living in cars, move into and retain settled accommodation
- Increasing the supply of affordable homes to rent and buy
- Improving the understanding of homelessness in Lower Hutt.
What is homelessness?
Homelessness is defined as a living situation where people have no option to acquire safe and secure housing. This includes sleeping rough or in vehicles, living temporarily with friends or family or in hostels, motels or overcrowded or unsafe dwellings.
The underlying causes of homelessness are structural - poverty, a lack of affordable homes, inequality and government policy. A person or whānau's individual circumstances, that can make them more susceptible to becoming homeless, include poor physical or mental health, inadequate income and financial problems, relationship breakdown or family violence, and alcohol and drug abuse. Age is also a factor, with young people being particularly vulnerable to homelessness.
All it can take to push a family out or its home is a redundancy, unexpected costs, a relationship breakdown or a period of illness.
Homelessness is difficult to accurately measure. Official data for Lower Hutt shows homelessness has been increasing since the 2006 Census, with housing register data, the number of households in emergency and temporary accommodation, and data from non-governmental organisations all increasing in recent years. As homelessness includes people who are in transient situations, the real number of those affected is higher than official data indicates.
Census figures suggest it increased in Lower Hutt by 41 per cent between the 2006 and 2013 censuses to 913 people. However, there have been increases in the number of people in temporary and emergency housing – including hostels – over the past two years. As homeless people are often in transient situations or difficult to contact, the true number is higher than official data indicates. Social service agencies and the Ministry of Social Development believe housing hardship and homelessness have increased over the last two years.
Housing data that helps illustrate homelessness and high demand for rental accommodation in Lower Hutt includes:
- Rents increasing across the city as demand grows for rented homes
- The public housing waiting list has increased considerably since June 2016
- The number of emergency housing special needs grants, issued by the Ministry of Social Development, that pay for people to stay in motels or hotels has increased every successive quarter since December 2017.
- Fifty-five per cent of emergency accommodation funding spent in the Wellington Region was paid out to Lower Hutt households in the September quarter.
What is Council doing?
Council has provided a funding package of 1.6 million over the next three years up to its next Long Term Plan. This funding has been divided between three actions which will be delivered by partner organisations.
- Settled housing with support. This service, which helps households that are homeless to access and retain accommodation, is being delivered by Tuatahi Centre. this service began in late August 2019
- Housing and advocacy. This service is being delivered by Community Law. It will be operational by January 2020
- Prevention of homelessness - early intervention. This service is being delivered by Tākiri Mai te Ata Whānau Ora Collective. Using a range of referral channels, the service will work with whānau at risk of homelessness. The aim is to prevent homelessness and avoid the negative effects on individuals, their whānau and the community. The service will be operational from 6 January 2020.
Officers will continue to work with our partners, both in relation to the three Council-funded actions and more broadly to improve the response to homelessness. This includes working with government and partners on the response to temporary accommodation and support to people sleeping rough in our city.
An insufficient supply of suitable and affordable housing is at the root of homelessness. Together with responding to our immediate homelessness crisis, Council is working on its housing strategy to improve housing supply and affordability in the city.
Council completed research into homelessness in Lower Hutt in April 2018. This was done by engaging with people with a lived experience of homelessness, social service agencies working with people who are homeless, as well as a range of other partners in the city and government ministries.
View the homelessness research paper (PDF 2.3 Mb)
We conducted a second round of engagement with social service agencies and people with a lived experience of homelessness. The resulting report and its recommendations were approved by Council's Policy and Regulatory Committee on 26 November 2018. The Homelessness Strategy was approved at a full Council meeting on 11 December 2018.
View the homelessness strategy report (PDF 412 Kb)
Council officers, together with Council’s community partners, put together a range of options for Council to contribute to the homelessness response.
At the Community Plan Committee meeting on 11 June 2019, Council voted to provide $1.6 million to fund a package of measures to prevent homelessness in the city, and to work with partners, including government and non-governmental organisations, to contribute to assisting people and families without a home.
View the summary of the actions.
Stories on homelessness
Council has published a series of stories on homelessness
For further information, please contact:
John Pritchard - Principal Research and Policy Advisor
T: 04 570 6838