24 Oct 2012

Auckland homeless court at risk of closing

10:10 pm on 24 October 2012

A specialised court for Auckland's homeless people, which is being applauded for helping to reduce homelessness in the city, could grind to a halt if it cannot secure more funding.

The New Beginnings Court was set up almost two years ago to deal with low-level offending and to help homeless people.

The cost of the court is shared between Auckland Council and several government agencies, but the manager of Lifewise social services organisation John McCarthy says that funding runs out at the end of the year.

He says the cost of one social worker, which is all that is needed to keep it going, is "a fairly insignificant amount of money" compared to what is being saved.

Mr McCarthy says the project is addressing the issue of homelessness in the city, arrests are down by 66% and more people are being put into homes and provided with work.

"There's been a reduction in arrest rates and prison bed nights, in presentation to hospital and an increase in housing," he says.

Mr McCarthy says offenders get supervision from a social worker to complete court-ordered plans, instead of being convicted and locked up.