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New Zealand’s Prime Minister Just Pledged $100 Million to Tackle Homelessness

Homelessness rates in New Zealand are among the worst in the developed world — and rising

But now, as summer turns to winter, newly-elected New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wants to change that. 

On Friday, Ardern pledged $100 million in emergency housing assistance to ensure that no one will sleep on the streets this winter — which is just four weeks away — and called on seasonal housing providers to open their doors to the country’s estimated 40,000 homeless people, The Guardian reports

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“We know we will have housing needs again this winter, but we want to try [to] get ahead of it,” Ardern said in a statement on Facebook Live. “We’ve really made a plea today, any marae, any seasonal housing that might be available, please contact us, we’ll work alongside you.” 

According to a 2017 study, New Zealand has the highest rate of homelessness among 35 developed countries that make up the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 

The number of people living on the streets and in temporary housing increased from one in 130 in 2001 to 1 in 100 in 2013, according to a University of Otago study. About half of the country’s homeless population — or 20,000 people — is made up of families with children. 

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This increase is in large part due to a shortage of affordable housing, especially in the city of Auckland. 

"As the housing market gets tighter, single people have more flexibility and potentially more options open to them, whereas families with children don't,” the author of the University of Otago study, Kate Amore, told the New Zealand Herald

While Ardern’s solution to the problem of homelessness in New Zealand is only temporary, the PM has also said she intends to address the root causes of homelessness by building affordable housing, increasing the minimum wage, and reducing child poverty, The Independent reports

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