At the recent Community Housing Aotearoa conference Nan Reed the CEO of the US National Alliance to end Homelessness spoke about the impact of having a joined up strategy, goals and measures for ending homelessness in the United States. Despite the lack of social services and a legal mandate for social care (except for war veterans and the disabled) the United States has, adverse conditions, achievements considerable gains. There is a summary of her speech here on Scoop Media.
At this time of renewed hope it is worth remembering that in contrast there has been no national strategy to address homelessness in New Zealand and in legal terms people in need of social housing have been counted as a financial drain on the government’s books.
HOUSING THE HOMELESS (with apologies to Henry Reed whose Second World War poem described the challenges of working with inadequate tools)
To-day we have housing the homeless . Yesterday,
We had future liability for the hopeless. And to-morrow morning,
We shall have what to do about rent arrears. But to-day,
To-day we have housing the homeless
Jasmine fragrance blows through the window,
And to-day we have housing the homeless .
This is the homeless motel. And these are the tenancy rules
whose use you will see, when you have your testing kit.
And this is a tenancy agreement,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in our case we have not got.
These are the homeless, identified
With an easy database search. And please do not let me
See anyone counting rough sleepers. You can do it quite easy
If you refer to the criteria.
The stems of buddleia rooting in cracked concrete
never let me see anyone counting people bunked up with relatives.
And this is the 0800 number
The purpose of which is to record problems, as you can see.
You can evict those with jobs; we call this private market readiness.
We are optimising the asset. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers with
nectar and pollen – optimising the asset.
They call it housing the homeless: it is perfectly easy
If you don’t count the homeless: or help with arrears, or with tenancy rules
See here the affordable rentals and the wrap-around social investment,
and the ending homelessness strategy,
Which in our case we have not got;
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
For to-day we have housing the homeless .
With apologies to Henry Reed for an adaptation of Naming of Parts