Caught up in safety nets – Lifewise


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The Lifewise Big Sleepout happens on one night, once a year. For this, our biggest annual fundraising event, we invite some of Auckland’s most influential people to sleep rough for one night and raise money that helps Lifewise get closer to ending homelessness. But that’s not enough. Influential people in the upper echelons of business and community need to be thinking about homelessness every day of the year. How can we do that?

At this year’s event, we asked this question to a few select participants – some first-timers and some long-term supporters. Every business person who was present cared enough about ending homelessness to brave one wet, wintry night. They all received encouragement and donations from their networks of suppliers and customers. And they all had conversations about homelessness they had probably never had before.

But there are still nearly 18,000 people in Auckland on the verge of homelessness. What could Lifewise Big Sleepout participants do for them?

The short answer: Talk to them. What if employers took a more proactive role in looking after the wellbeing of people who work for them? Do employers and business owners know enough about the real people on their payrolls? What kind of support can they offer to their most vulnerable employees? How can they make sure that they do not get to a point where they need agencies like Lifewise to step in?

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Like most of us, people might already have safety nets of their own. An auntie, perhaps, who can take you in on days when you’ve fallen out with your folks. A cousin who can help top up your rent when you’re in between jobs. Or even a mate with a spare room. It’s when these safety nets have unravelled that homelessness becomes a reality. And as this blog post pointed out recently, the Free Market deals with homelessness in a spectacularly cruel way.

Until the day we wake up to a fair and just system we will continue needing bigger and stronger safety nets. So maybe we need some new strands in. There comes a point in people’s lives where the right support makes all the difference. Often the government is not present at that stage. But employers could be.


  1. You can count me to those being close to being at risk of homelessness, as my landlord did not long ago hand over the management of my property that I rent to a real estate business that does such property management.

    They have already started with inspections, with talk about this and that needing to be done, and so forth, and so far it has only been for the fact that my landlord has been one of those who do not really bother with charging market rents, that I have been able to survive.

    On a more or less fixed income, that is unlikely to go up, I will not be able to pay market rent, and once the rent goes up, the pressure will become unbearable.

    If it goes up to market rates, I will in no way be able to afford keeping this rental, and probably have to try finding a room in a boarding house, as even smaller flats than the one I rent cost so much now, they are impossible to pay for here in Auckland.

    Thanks to John Key and his criminal government, acting in criminal negligence, we have a housing price bubble and market that is out of control. They continue to allow more high net migration gain, and most come to Auckland, adding to the pressure hour by hour, day by day, week by week and month by month.

    It is time we occupy mansions in St Stephens Ave and other leafy suburban areas here, where some have empty homes or at least empty rooms, while living in luxury. Where is the social responsibility of those irresponsible criminals driving thousands of innocent people into abject poverty and homelessness.

    I pray every day, that a rent increase has not come yet, that is how it looks like for me and a fair few others I know.

  2. This housing ponzi scheme in Auckland fuelled by mass immigration is putting a huge amount of pressure on the lower socio-economic groups of NZ society and Paula Bennett & John Key don’t give a big fat rats a***?

  3. Here is further evidence of what shit goes down here in the South of Auckland, where we have virtual predatory property managers exploit poor and vulnerable who cannot find homes on “the market”:

    It is disgusting what goes on, and it seems some new immigrants are right into making a profit out of people they “manage” as tenants, disgraceful, we are fast becoming just another failed city, like many big cities in other parts of the world.

    How is Len Browns “Auckland, the world’s most liveable city” going, I wonder???

  4. Right jack,

    Market forces cause suffering and death amongst the unfortunate don’t they in Government know anything about human tragedy?

  5. I appreciate the work Lifewise does, to raise awareness. But I think such measures are not enough, and will not solve all that much.

    We had the former boss of the Auckland City Mission announce years ago, that she wanted to work with business to help more people via her Mission. So she collaborated with various business people.

    While it may have offered some more donations and what else may have been useful, it has not reduced the need for food parcels and emergency medical care or housing.

    Only systemic change, and first of all a change in government, can bring real, effective change and address the problems.

    Sleeping out for a night in solidarity, and to learn what it is like, that is symbolic, but will not change the system.

    More action is needed, also protest action, but there again, few New Zealanders are inclined to protest.

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