Auckland mayoral candidate Mark Thomas has promised to introduce a new bylaw to prohibit begging in Auckland. Banning begging will be about as effective as banning breathing.
Not only is it the last bastion of the broken and bent, but human nature means most of us also want to help.
From my observation, Street People are as cunning as a Remuera rat and as wily as a Penthouse fox.
Not all are receiving a benefit or appropriate mental health care or addressing addictions. A lot of homeless people are not literate enough to read this rant, let alone comply with Work and Income paperwork.
Street characters are not generally on the streets because they are socially compliant.
Some Streeties are pathological, antisocial parasites.
Many others, however, are just disenfranchised, separated from their community and lack the support needed for any success.
Most of these people are simply trying to pass time in the most profitable manner possible.
Sure, take away begging. No one wants to see or surrender to soliciting.
But give the central city rough community a hub, a marae-style centre where anyone can go to learn artisan skills such as knitting, weaving, pottery and music. Second, find a vacant warehouse and enlist some of our skilled graduates as mentors, tutors and admin.
Start by promoting existing free courses, and have people on the streets to talk to people and point them in the way of something more productive for the entire community.
Surely we would rather buy a handcrafted beanie or scarf, kit bag or candle than throw a coin into cup?
To remove begging and poverty you have to give people options.
According to information released under the Local Government Official Information ACT, The Counci's The Long Term Plan (LTP) 2015-2025 allocated $360,000 for year one and two (2015/16 and 2016/17) and $110,000 for year three ($2017/18).
The funds are to support emergency housing and homelessness initiatives.
To date, the Council has given $25k to the Auckland City Mission, allocated a further $35k to be divided between The Salvation Army and consumed an operating budget of $58k.
Six has lived on the streets at various times and writes about that and other things at Tranzspotting.