Whangārei couple living in park raped as homelessness skyrockets

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People sleeping on Whangārei Street are faced with trespassing notices in a context of rapidly increasing homelessness.

The homelessness figures in Whangārei fell from 21 in 2018 to 293 in 2020.
Photo: 123RF

This week, RNZ revealed new figures showing that the city’s homeless population had grown from 21 people in 2018 to 293 in 2020.

The numbers were part of a Northland District Health Board report released this week.

He said that “a very high proportion” of homeless people were Maori and that this “reinforced and extended existing inequalities”, but it was “unlikely that there would be enough transitional housing in Northland for to respond to needs”.

The report also stated that kainga ora was an “unattainable dream” for too many people in Te Tai Tokerau and that most of the homeless in Whangārei lived in vehicles or around bridges and toilets.

On Wednesday, two homeless people living illegally in a park were raped by the Whangārei District Council and warned that they could be fined up to $ 1,000 or jail time of up to $ 1,000. up to three months if they return within two years.

The woman and man, whom RNZ has agreed not to name, live in a car and a trailer with their two dogs.

They said they were friendly with passers-by and had nowhere to go while they waited for emergency accommodation.

“I’m drained,” the woman told RNZ.

When asked where she would go now, she replied, “I don’t know”.

Whangārei’s family assistant, Bevan Bell, often walked through the park and had spoken to the couple regularly.

He wanted to see them live in a “warm, tidy and hygienic” place where they could keep their dogs.

The government spent $ 199 million on homelessness initiatives in the 2021 budget, but Bell was skeptical of the government’s efforts to address the problem.

“What a joke,” he told RNZ.

The council said it had been working for several months to help the man and woman at the park find a legal place to live – but the offers were not accepted.

“This is a sports park and the parking lots, toilets and changing rooms are for people involved in sports, who, along with the neighbors, have expressed concern about this situation.”

He said a trespassing notice was the last option when everyone else had been exhausted.

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