Council considers options to support people experiencing homelessness

Published on January 25, 2023

Media release placeholder

Whanganui Mayor Andrew Tripe says the council wants to set up a temporary facility to help address homelessness and relieve pressure on freedom camping sites.

“Both nationally and locally there is an increase in people experiencing homelessness,” he says. “This is not something our district is experiencing on its own.

“Whanganui District Council is prioritising this issue and we are working very hard, along with other agencies, to find long-term options to support people into affordable housing.

“In the meantime we are looking to establish a temporary area with social support services for those who are currently homeless and living at the freedom camping sites in Whanganui.”

The council has looked at a number of possible locations for the facility, including council-owned land at 125 Grey Street.

Mayor Andrew says council staff and elected members met with neighbouring residents on Monday, 16 January to discuss options for the Grey Street site. “Based on their feedback we are now looking at alternative sites,” he says.

Chief executive David Langford says a report will bring options to the council’s next meeting on Tuesday, 14 February.

“We are evaluating sites suitable for a temporary facility that we expect would operate for up to two years while we build a permanent night shelter,” he says. “The goal is to help people experiencing homelessness feel safe, keep their dignity and get access to help. We will be working with other government agencies to put wrap-around services in place. In addition, the council will be providing toilets and shower facilities.”

David Langford says, “In five years our social housing register has gone from 57 to 342 people and these are only the people registered – we know there are a high number of people living in unsuitable accommodation or overcrowded that are not registered.

“Currently there are people experiencing homeless in many of our freedom camping sites. This isn’t ideal for tourists who want to freedom camp in Whanganui and we know from talking to some of the homeless people that they don’t feel safe either. Finding a dedicated place will make freedom camping sites available for visitors again, while also offering safety and privacy to those currently living in vulnerable situations.” 

Tagged as: