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In 2008 Finland made a significant change to their homeless policy, making it the only country in Europe where the number of homeless people has declined.
They achieved this by shutting down emergency shelters and temporary housing and instead began renovating these dwellings into apartments.
This was on top of permanent social housing they were building throughout the country under their Housing First programme.
It wasn’t an overnight success, it was a model Finland had been working on since the 1980s with charities, NGOs and volunteers.
It was the launch of a fully funded national programme a decade ago which saw the tide turn on homelessness.
“For us it means it’s always permanent housing that’s supposed to be proved for homeless persons – always permanent instead of temporary solutions,” Finland’s Housing First CEO Juha Kaakinen told 1 NEWS.
Mr Kaakinen says emergency shelters and hostels were failing to keep up with demand and were becoming an “obstacle” to solving homelessness.
“Well it’s obvious that when you are on the street or you are living in temporary accommodation to take care of things like employment issues, health and social issues it’s almost impossible,” he says.
“But a permanent home gives you a safe place where you don’t have to be afraid about what’s going to happen tomorrow, and you know if you can take care of the rent.”
In 2008, Helsinki alone had 500 bed places in emergency shelters, now 10 years later there is only one shelter with 52 beds.
Finland’s Housing First social housing stock for those who are on low incomes or in need of urgent housing makes up 13 per cent of their total housing stock.
Under their housing policy, every new housing area must be 20 per cent social housing.
“It’s quite a simple thing in a way, it makes common sense that you have to have a home like everyone else.”
Not only is permanent housing supplied to those who can’t afford a roof over their head but wrap around support such as financial and debt counselling.
The number of homeless in Finland has dropped from 18,000 to 6500 people with 80 per cent living with friends and relatives while they wait for a home.
This means there is practically no street or rough sleepers in Finland, which has a total population of 5.4 million people.
The Housing First programme in New Zealand is funded by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) across many regions including Auckland.
However, this programme is just one of a myriad of programmes that include charities and community groups.
MSD’s Deputy Chief Executive for Housing Scott Gallacher acknowledges that more housing needs to be built to address the current crisis here.
“Our optimal outcome is to have far more supply of public housing, so people can have long-term stability. The stark reality is the context in which we find ourselves in that we just cannot bring on the degree of supply of long-term housing in the time required.
“The scale of what we’ve got of transitional housing at the moment will probably reduce over time and once we have a far stronger supply of long-term homes for people that is really the optimal outcome that we’re all trying to achieve,” says Mr Gallacher told 1 NEWS.
MSD also acknowledges it needs to provide greater support for those who are homeless to end chronic homelessness.
“It’s not just about the bricks and mortar, it’s not just about the house, it’s about what sort of support are we providing families and individuals to stabilise their lives and actually be able to sustain long-term homes.”
Mr Kaakinen says there is no other way around ending homelessness but to have government involvement.
The Housing NZ board will not be sacked over the methamphetamine contamination “fiasco”, Housing Minister Phil Twyford has said.
Housing NZ issued an apology to all those who lost their homes as the organisation pursued a conservative policy around meth contamination in properties.
Chief executive Andrew McKenzie also apologised for the organisation’s zero tolerance policy around illegal activities, saying they had ignored the issues that had led to people being tenants of Housing NZ.
A report showed that around 800 tenants suffered through Housing NZ’s response to meth contamination.
“Housing NZ acknowledges that around 800 tenants suffered by either losing their tenancies, losing their possessions, being suspended from the public housing waiting list, negative effects on their credit ratings or, in the worst cases, being made homeless," Mr Twyford said.
“Housing NZ is committed to redressing the hardship these tenants faced. This will be done on a case by case basis and the organisation will look to reimburse costs tenants incurred, and make discretionary grants to cover expenses such as moving costs and furniture replacement.”
“They will also receive a formal apology from Housing NZ.
Mr Twyford said it was a failure of the previous government and they have already paid for it because “they are no longer ministers”.
“The approach to methamphetamine from 2013 by the government of the day was a moral and fiscal failure. Housing NZ had been instructed by then ministers to operate like a private sector landlord. This led to the wellbeing of tenants being ignored.
“Even as evidence grew that the meth standard was too low, and ministers acknowledged it wasn’t ‘fit for purpose’, the former government continued to demonise its tenants. At any time they could have called for independent advice. Our Government is choosing to do the right thing.”
Massey University Vice Chancellor Jan Thomas misled students over the cancellation of the Don Brash speaking event and the student association has no confidence in her ability to do the job.
Student association president Ngahuia Kirton says her biggest concern to come out of the issue was threats to restrict funding to the association.
"As a whole, students seem to have been misled and I don’t think that their views were properly taken into consideration by the senior leadership team," she told TVNZ1’s Breakfast.
"MUSA’s position is very clear, we have no confidence in the vice chancellor’s ability to discharge her duties, so I would hope that the university council would take that into consideration," she said.
Documents obtained yesterday under the Official Information Act contain correspondence to and from Ms Thomas in the run-up to the cancellation.
In one email on 9 July, the vice-chancellor said she did not want a "te tiriti led university to be seen to be endorsing racist behaviours".
A day later, she emailed to say she would like to know the options for banning the politics club from holding events on campus.
She said the "racist behaviour of Dr Brash - given te reo is an official language of NZ and we are a tiriti-led university - can't be ignored".
Ms Kirton said the vice chancellor’s concerns that Mr Brash’s views didn’t align with the values of the university were valid but students were still misled.
"I think her concerns were more around the fact that Massey University is a teriti-led and her views that Don Brash’s views didn’t align with that is completely valid."
"I’m more concerned about the way she handled the communication and the events that happened afterwards."
"Personally, I don’t agree with Don Brash’s views, and I think many people at the student association also do not agree with them, however I do think university as the critic and conscience of society is a great place to have those healthy debates and these difficult conversations."
Ms Kirton says her biggest concern to come out of the issue was threats to restrict funding to the association.
"The cancellation of the Don Brash events aside, the student association’s biggest concern is actually the threats to restrict funding to student associations to manage backlash."
Jacinda Ardern's announcement yesterday that we will increase our yearly refugee intake to 1500 by 2020 was a proud moment for New Zealand, says Red Cross official Rachel O'Conner.
But there are some things we will have to do as a nation to prepare for the increase, which will result in New Zealand having doubled its intake in less than five years, she told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning.
"We'll need people to respond, we're going to need people to volunteer, to donate items," she said. "But a lot of it is about...having welcoming communities."
Resettlement, she explained, is difficult - away from family and friends, without work and often having to learn a new language.
"Kiwis have this value of showing care and compassion, and that is what helps build that sense of belonging," said Ms O'Conner, who serves as national migration programmes manager for the humanitarian organisation.
Under the Prime Minister's plan, six new resettlement communities will be established so that existing ones in New Zealand aren't over-burdened. The towns, however, haven't yet been chosen.
"We're going to be looking for councils and community groups to put up their hands and say, 'Yup, we want to be one of the new six'," Ms O'Conner said.
Ms O'Conner described yesterday's announcement as "a great start". But with 1.4 million people in desperate need of resettlement, "we're seeing unprecedented needs globally at the moment", she added, explaining that the Government also needs to take another good look at foreign aid and peace building activities.
Even after yesterday's announcement, New Zealand is far from being a leader in terms of refugee intake numbers.
"But we are leaders in the terms of the quality of resettlement that we provide," she said, telling the story of a mum who had carried her disabled teen son on her back for his entire life because they didn't have access to health care in their previous country.
After arriving in Auckland, the boy was given a wheelchair and it changed both of their lives, O'Conner said.
"She kept saying, 'I can't believe I don't have to carry him anymore'," she recalled.