Fatal Christchurch fire highlights the need for action on youth homelessness
The death of young Christchurch resident, Corey James Mclean, over the weekend highlights the growing problem of youth homelessness in New Zealand. With more than half of New Zealand’s homeless under the age of 25, youth homelessness is not only an economic drain on New Zealand, it also signals the tragic loss of hope and potential, and in this case, the tragic loss of a life.
General Manager of social development agency, Lifewise, says: “Youth homelessness is, sadly, a growing issue. It’s worse in the current economic climate with the numbers of families living in poverty, but it’s also an increasing problem in Auckland and Christchurch in particular, as the result of housing shortages.”
Sadly, homelessness is often the experience of young people leaving foster care, which happens at the age of 17 in New Zealand. While the many young people leave care to a safe and long-term home, studies in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia indicate the average rate of subsequent homelessness for youth transitioning from foster care is as high as 43%. This illuminates a significant problem across New Zealand.