Public space and anti-homeless regulations : local government responses to homelessness in three New Zealand cities
Laurenson, Penelope Jane Marjorie
This thesis examines local government regulation of public space and its effects on homeless people in the cities of Auckland, Wellington and Nelson. International literature identifies a growing trend in Western cities toward implementing punitive regulations targeting behaviours associated with homeless people in response to concerns for public safety and city image. New Zealand has not been immune from these concerns. The primary aim of this research is to investigate whether local authorities in New Zealand are following international trends toward adopting regulations that target homeless people. Data collection involved a media review, and interviews with eighteen key informants. The research finds examples of local authorities implementing bylaws targeting behaviours associated with homeless people, as a response to concerns for safety, city image, and appropriate uses of public space. However, there has also been a strong non-regulatory approach to addressing homelessness within the last three years. The fact that punitive regulations targeting homeless people are not more widespread could be a reflection of the fact that homelessness is less visible in New Zealand than elsewhere. This said, the major concern that people appear to have with homeless people is the visibility of their occasionally antisocial behaviours in public space. Punitive regulations are inappropriate for addressing these, and local authorities should instead look to alternatives such as supporting services dealing with the root causes of the behaviours, such as alcoholism and mental illness.
Advisor: Collins, Damian
Degree Name: Masters in Regional and Resource Planning
Degree Discipline: Geography
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis