Minister admits more 'chronic homeless' as oppositon inquiry ends with tearful cases

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The Government has admitted homelessness has got worse under its watch.

The admission came today as opposition parties wrapped up their own inquiry into the problem with  harrowing stories of life on the streets. 

It comes as opposition parties wrapped up their own inquiry into the problem.
Source: 1 NEWS

"Certainly I can accept that there are more at that chronic homeless end and also those on lower income and on benefits are certainly feeling the effects," said Paula Bennett, Social Housing Minister.

And one inquiry member, Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox, has taken the crisis into her own hands, offering a homeless woman a bed in her own home.

"If I said 'no, sorry about it,' she'd be sleeping on the street today," Ms Fox said.

Two Wellington mothers were in tears as they told MPs of the daily struggle of finding somewhere to live.

Katerina Taliau told MPs during the homelessness enquiry says she is working “so hard” to raise her four kids.
Source: 1 NEWS

"Pretending that I can't see the bad weather outside, sending my son to walk to school in all sorts of weather, rain, cold or warm or whatever. I'm trying to save the $4 a day to make up the rent by the end of the week," said Katerina Taliou, a Wellington mother.

Solo mother Sarah told the inquiry she fears for her life and that of her five children after fleeing from a violent marriage.

"Even though we are in danger - he has promised to come and kill us - we can't get into a house at the moment. So we just have to stay there because it's better than making the kids go back to living in the car," she said.

The family have also lived in garages and squashed into one bedroom.

"It means that my kids have been really sick a lot. We've all had pneumonia. One of my sons almost died from pneumonia," Sarah said.

Overworked Wellington social workers say they are now suffering from 'compassion fatigue' as they struggle to find places to house people. 

"I liken it to being a bit like being a medic in a war zone with no supplies," said Jude Douglas, a social worker. 

Now the inquiry is over, opposition MPs will now write a report. 

But the Government refused to be involved in the inquiry, and without Government support, the findings and recommendations will go nowhere, for now.

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