Tauranga rough sleeping ban vote callous – AAAP

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The Tauranga council voted in favour of a bylaw banning begging and rough sleeping within 5m of public entrances to retail and hospitality premises in Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and Greerton. Auckland Action Against Poverty condemns the move by the Tauranga council towards introducing such bylaw and stands in solidarity with Community Angels Tauranga and other local groups fighting against the ban.

“Banning begging and rough sleeping in the interest of business is outright cruel, particularly when the country’s inequality crisis is factored in. The council should be putting its resources and energy to increasing council owned homes instead of scapegoating our most vulnerable for political gains”, says Ricardo Menendez March, Auckland Action Against Poverty’s Coordinator.

“While Tauranga’s house prices continue to rise, the local and central Government have barely increased the public housing stock. Meanwhile, income levels for people who are on the benefit remain stagnant, with more people pushed into the streets relying on good will to afford food and other necessities.

“Central city areas often provide shelter from the weather and are close to public amenities such as libraries and public toilets. For people rough sleeping, they are places where they can form community and remain connected. Pushing people to rural outer suburbs simply exposes them to increased alienation and exposure to the elements.

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“As a group that works with homeless people daily, we stand in solidarity with Community Angels Tauranga and other local groups supporting those in poverty in the area and standing against the Councillors who voted for the rough sleeping ban. Councillors ought to listen to those on the frontlines who understand the effects the bylaw would have on those on the breadline.

“The Councillors who voted in favour of the ban should be ashamed that they put the interests of business ahead of the well being of those needing the most support.

“Auckland Action Against Poverty is calling on the Tauranga Council to not move to introduce the bylaw, and instead invest resources to increase support for the homeless and build more council homes.