Posted on April 4, 2016
Experiencing homelessness and begging is incredibly tough. Fixing it has proved impossible. A lot of great people are involved helping, but we are not making enough progress. We’re not being fair on the homeless and we’re not being fair on other Aucklanders. We need a new approach.
Auckland Mayoral candidate Mark Thomas will introduce a new bylaw to prohibit begging in Auckland and he will increase pressure on government agencies to boost support for the homeless.
Thomas attended an Auckland Council summit on homelessness last week which also reported on Len Brown’s “10-year” plan to end homelessness.
“Auckland Council is not making fast enough progress. It’s not fair that some people use our streets and public places for their own ends – even if they clearly need help.”
“Overseas cities such as Salzburg in Austria and Freemantle in Perth are also moving ahead with begging bans.”
“There were 147 people sleeping rough in central Auckland in 2014. It shouldn’t take 10 years to solve this.”
“Police tell me the current bylaw passed in 2013 is ineffective as it requires beggars to “intimidate” or “cause a nuisance” to be removed. That’s hopeless as anyone who is “passive” begging can remain.”
“We need a fairer approach to begging and a more effective answer to the homeless problem.”
Thomas said other cities also use vacant government or council buildings as a temporary, short-term shelter.
“Police and other groups can take homeless people there and make it easier for government and other support agencies to reach them. I want to look at this if there’s no new cost to ratepayers.”
“Thomas said it’s not council’s role to solve the complex social issues involved with homelessness and that’s been the problem with the Mayor’s approach over the last 5 years.”
“I will use my council and business experience to focus council better on the areas we control: making sure our streets and public places are respected and well maintained.”
Thomas said a new inner-city homeless survey will be completed in the coming months – and it will probably show the problem is getting worse.
“As Auckland’s next Mayor, I won’t put up with this. I’ll lead a new approach to remove begging from our streets and ensure government meets its responsibility.”