Long-awaited Homelessness Action Plan a mixed bag: Doctors

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians welcomes the announcement of the Homelessness Action Plan 2020-2023, which will inject some money and focus into a serious problem, but is concerned it will be too little, too late for some whānau.

Dr Jeff Brown, Aotearoa NZ President of the RACP and a paediatrician at Palmerston North Hospital said, “It’s taken nearly three years for this government to release a plan to address the spectrum of homelessness and housing need.

“We need urgent action to build more warm, dry and safe houses for people and whānau, and they must be long-term, not transitional placements.”

The RACP have launched #MakingItTheNorm report cards which show that while some gains have been made, transformative change for the people most impacted by the lack of public housing remains unrealised.

The RACP recommends that:

  • Programmes showing promising results, such as Housing First, should be scaled up to more centres to reduce long-term homelessness.
  • The Winter Energy Payment should be made available to low income households as well as beneficiaries – which would also contribute to reducing widespread fuel poverty in the community.

“The RACP will continue to call for healthy housing to be the norm in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“Our members say that its vital to acknowledge the impact of housing on health and wellbeing”, Dr Brown said.

The RACP welcomed specific funding in the Homelessness Action Plan to support the wellbeing of children in emergency housing, when whānau may face new expenses such as transport to school or early childhood education.

“Homelessness is destabilising and can be extremely traumatic for children and adolescents.

“Homes should be places of comfort and safety and connect us to our neighbourhoods and communities. Secure and long-term housing shouldn’t be a pipe-dream for our kids.”

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