'Samuel' crouches, begging, behind an empty coffee cup in
George St on Monday. Photo by The Star.
People are begging for money on Dunedin streets and
social services are helping more people with nowhere to sleep,
as the city's most vulnerable struggle on the margins.
There have been many reports of people asking strangers for
money - and people begging on the footpath - in recent weeks.
Rising living costs and displacement in the wake of the
Canterbury earthquakes have been linked to the sometimes
shocking and all-too-obvious signs of personal struggle.
Outside the Meridian mall on Monday, a man, who was kneeling
behind a stained paper cup, told The Star begging was his
last remaining option.
"Samuel'' said he did not usually beg but had done it before.
He was begging because he was short of grocery money.
He had moved from Christchurch to Dunedin about two months
ago after he found he could no longer afford to live there.
He did not have permanent accommodation in Dunedin, he said.
Meanwhile, the city's night shelter has reported a 46%
increase in demand last year, following an increase the year
Shelter chairman David Brown said the organisation helped 252
people last year.
It was hard to pinpoint one cause of the increase but there
was no doubt the economic situation had an effect on those at
the lower end of the economic spectrum, Mr Brown said.
The Canterbury earthquakes and the increase in the cost of
living as that city started to rebuild had seen some move
south to Dunedin, he said.''
It's not a lot of people but we have noticed more people are
moving down from Christchurch,'' he said.
Not everyone who used the night shelter was homeless and
there were a variety of reasons why people might use the
service, Mr Brown said.
There had been a trend of increased demand during the past
two to three years, he said.
Salvation Army Dunedin community ministries manager Lindsay
Andrews said more people were unable to cope financially and
there was no other option for them but to sleep on the
''The critical issue we are finding is that increasingly
people are unable to afford to live,'' Mr Andrews said.
Homelessness was complex - it could even be a lifestyle
choice for people who were so against the social system they
chose to live on the street, he said.
The number of people in need of housing moving from
Christchurch to Dunedin had increased, including three
families in one week at the end of last year, Mr Andrews
A social housing shortage in Christchurch meant people had to
move, he said.
''The need in Christchurch is pushing people in all
directions for housing.''
Constable Michael Gasson, of Dunedin,
said in the past two weeks he had been approached by people
about two men who had been begging.
Const Gasson said both men were on benefits but were begging
to supplement that income.
''There is nothing illegal about begging so from the police
point of view we want to know if they are homeless and if
they needed any assistance.''
It seemed some young men saw begging as a way to boost their
income but that did not mean they were well off, he said.
Meridian mall manager Michael Porter said there had been a
shift from buskers outside the mall ''to people who are just
begging or are congregating in the area''.
Mall staff moved anyone who caused a nuisance or safety
hazard, he said.
The Dunedin City Council has no bylaws addressing begging. A
spokeswoman said the council had received no complaints about
In some centres, Work and Income has staff specifically
assigned to deal with the homeless and very poor, but not in