Posted on May 3, 2016
Auckland Mayoral Mark Thomas is joining the Lifewise Big Sleepout this year to explain his begging ban.
Thomas received a personal invitation to participate from the Lifewise CEO Moria Lawler on Friday. He will use the Sleepout to both raise money for Lifewise and to explain the begging ban and extra support he will introduce if elected Mayor.
The mayoral candidate has said Auckland’s 10 year plan to end homelessness isn’t working fast enough and if elected Mayor in October he will introduce a begging ban and provide a temporary shelter to make it easier for agencies to provide the help needed.
“My office is at the bottom of Queen Street and I see more and more people begging and sleeping rough. The police I have spoken to agree the problem seems to be getting worse.”
Thomas said a lot of great people are involved helping the homeless but we have to do more.
“I don’t think it’s the Mayor of Auckland’s job to cure homeless, but it is their job to make sure our streets are used in the right way”
“I will provide vacant or underused council or government space that can be used overnight for people who are homeless. This will make it easier for government and other support groups to get to those who need help. Other cities around the world are exploring options like this.”
“But it has to work both ways. If I’m going to provide more support, it’s fair that those who need it meet the obligation the rest of us meet and respect the use of our streets.”
“I don’t want this to cost ratepayers anymore and will work with businesses to meet any additional costs.”
Thomas said by sleeping rough he wanted to show people that he was prepared to put some ‘skin in the game’.
“I have donated money to those fundraising for rough sleepers over the years but this year I want to do it myself.
He already fundraises each year for the City Mission who provides a great deal of support in the area.