The finding by Otago University researcher Dr Kate Amore that most homeless people are in work or study is one of the most shocking aspects of the housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.
“Social service agencies report many homeless people turning up looking for shelter are wage-earners. They just cannot find any affordable rental housing, and end up homeless or living in their cars or campgrounds.
“Now this has been confirmed by Dr Amore’s latest analysis of the 41,000 homeless in New Zealand which has found 52 per cent of all homeless adults are in employment or are studying.
“When most homeless people are in paid employment, you know something is completely out of whack under this National Government.
“It is a common misconception that the homeless are all people who suffer mental illness or addiction issues. What this report shows is that National’s housing crisis has pushed 20,000 of the working poor into homelessness.
“Dr Amore’s analysis of 2013 census data shows large numbers of young Kiwis are being put at risk by the meltdown of the housing market. The most common age to be homeless is 15-24 (27 per cent of the population). More disturbingly 24 per cent of the homeless population are people under the age of 15.
This is because Labour and Dr Amore are using a definition of homeless that is so wide it covers living with relatives or in a boarding house.
Of the 41,000 in the census data, 90% are living in houses, boarding houses, motels etc. That is not homeless as the average NZer regards it. Only 10% are living in the street, in cars, garages etc.
So 4,000 is 4,000 too many but to keep pretending we have 41,000 people homeless is idiotic. And it won’t work. NZers are too smart. People know that we don’t have 41,000 homeless people.