Keeping poverty-stricken Kiwis out of the cold

May 15, 2019

 Keeping poverty-stricken Kiwis out of the cold

Poverty-stricken Kiwis are heavily affected as winter's low temperatures begin. Photo: Unsplash

Auckland City Mission is gearing up for the colder months as increasing living costs fuel New Zealand’s rates of homelessness and poverty.

Claire Watson, a spokesperson for the Auckland City Mission, said staying warm is an issue for many of their clients and they have seen an increase in demand for warm clothing and sleeping bags.

“If they don’t have money for food, it is likely they don’t have money to heat their homes — if they have a home.”

The City Mission adjust the support they give Aucklanders during winter, by placing more importance on providing warm clothes, bedding and hot meals.

But New Zealand’s poverty issue runs longer than just the winter months.

In a statement, Jono Bell, a spokesperson for the Salvation Army, said New Zealand is facing a poverty and housing crisis.

“The complexity of people’s situations is alarming. The levels of debt, lack of housing. Mental health issues tell us that poverty in New Zealand is alive and well.”

The Salvation Army is increasingly seeing the working poor come through its doors as housing costs continue to rise.

In 2018, one in 40 Kiwis accessed the Salvation Army’s services.

Mr Bell said that more housing is the key to solving poverty.

“More houses are needed, and they need to be affordable.”

Chief executive of Infrastructure New Zealand, Stephen Selwood said he is concerned at the impact of the loss in disposable income that has occurred over the last decade and the effects it has had on poverty.

“More concerted action is needed to address the housing crisis.”

He said this includes, “enabling scale development of housing and commercial development to provide affordable homes and jobs in South Auckland”.

These proposed homes would be in the $300 to $500 thousand price range.

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