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'0800 JACINDA': John Tamihere wants to create hotline for rough sleepers

Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sunday, 11 August 2019, 3:21PM
John Tamihere has released his homelessness and begging policy as part of his campaign to become Auckland mayor. (Photo / Dean Purcell)

John Tamihere says as Auckland's mayor he would create an 0800 JACINDA hotline to call if residents see rough sleepers or beggars.

Anyone who called the number would find a "person all loving and caring that knows everything about your wellbeing" on the other end, he said. A social worker would then be sent to work with the beggar.

Homeless people causing a "nuisance" by sleeping rough would be asked to go with the social worker - or find themself in breach of the law, Tamihere said in a statement this afternoon as he released his begging and homelessness policy.

Tamihere claimed he would also force social workers to change their work hours, working three shifts so they would be available around the clock.

"Under no circumstances should any Auckland citizen have a fit of conscience and believe they are doing any fellow Aucklander a favour by handing over donations to a beggar," he said.

"We have enough social workers in New Zealand, particularly in Auckland to deal with working one-on-one," Tamihere said.

"With each person found on the streets, social workers, like a lot of other workers in the supply side of our economy, must wake up to the fact that social work is a 24/7 job, and there will be a requirement that they work three shifts."

Tamihere told the Weekend Collective homelessness is not a local government issue.

"The ratepayer in Auckland shouldn't be double taxed by having to fix homelesness which is a central government issue. It's as simple as that."

That 0800 number is not up and running, and Tamihere says he wouldn't be worried if someone bought it out from under him.

"Doesn't matter. I've made the point."

The council would also build more social housing under his leadership, in partnership with central Government.

Tamihere said he was in the mayoral race because Phil Goff had decided there would be a cap on social housing on publicly owned ratepayer land.

He said he had filed an urgent claim to the Human Rights Tribunal requesting that that policy be deemed a breach of Human Rights, particularly affecting superannuitants, beneficiaries and those earning under $80,000 per year.

"Council owns some of the most strategic and important land parcels that could bring an end to homelessness in the city, but more importantly they are brownfield sites close to transport and existing infrastructure."

Last year's homeless count on September 17 found there were an estimated 800 people living without shelter in Auckland, and at least 2,874 people in temporary accommodation.

But Tamihere called the count a "$500,000 political stunt" and said he didn't need that to know the number of homeless and rough sleepers or where they sleep.

"The millions of dollars that Auckland Council splurges on subsidising central Government failure must stop," he said.

Homelessness was an issue for central Government, not local government or police, he said.

ON AIR: Simon Barnett and Phil Gifford Afternoons

12PM - 4PM