Asia Minute: Homelessness A Growing Issue in New Zealand

Dec 8, 2017

Credit DAVID HOLT / Flickr

As we’ve been reporting this week, Hawai‘i still has the worst homeless situation per capita among all 50 states, according to the latest figures from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. But homelessness is a growing problem in many areas—including what may be some unexpected places in the Asia Pacific. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

By some measures, one of the worst homeless situations in the developed world is in New Zealand.

That’s according to a Yale University study done this summer using comparative figures from the OECD—the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

There are differences among OECD countries in describing exactly what homelessness means.

New Zealand takes a very broad approach to the issue.

The government adopted a definition of the term in 2009 to include people sleeping outside or in tents, living in cars or garages or in emergency shelters or temporary housing such as government subsidized motel rooms. 

A group of housing advocates and welfare officials said it was important to include what they called the “concealed homeless.”

The Yale study said “more than 40,000 people live on the streets or in emergency housing or substandard shelters” across New Zealand.

That’s nearly one-percent of the country’s population including some 24,000 in New Zealand’s largest city: Auckland.

The government of new Prime Minister Jacinda Adern has affordable housing high on its priority list.

This week, a briefing paper prepared for the incoming Social Development Minister said over the past 2 years, the demand for government subsidized housing has increased by 72-percent.