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Addressing ‘root causes’ needed to combat homelessness in Auckland CBD, says advocacy organisation

22 December, 2023

Interview by Olivia Bing, adapted by Mahdhi Osman-Penrice

Chief Executive of Lifewise, Haehaetu Barrett, says issuing trespassing notices for anti-social behaviour would only further isolate people rough sleeping. 

Recently, business owners in Auckland CBD have called for harsher measures to combat homelessness. 

The city's business association wants a bylaw changed to let the council issue trespassing notices for anti-social behaviour to ensure public safety. 

However, Chief Executive of Lifewise, an Auckland-based community development organisation helping people living in hardship, Haehaetu Barrett, told 95bFM's The Wire that homelessness will continue as long as the "root causes" go unaddressed.

“Homelessness is an effect of generational trauma. A lot of people experiencing homelessness have health and addiction issues and are disconnected from their immediate family.”

Barrett believes punishing homeless individuals could lead to “heightened isolation” for those rough sleeping, who already feel hesitant to access support services. 

“With bylaws like that, we will continue the isolation and segregation of our people.”

Barrett says those experiencing homelessness need to feel supported to form community relationships. 

She says the political environment and negative attitudes towards homelessness affect their work towards mitigating homelessness.

“The government needs to ensure that organisations like Lifewise are capable of delivering our services”.

Listen to the full interview

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air