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Wellington mayoral candidate Justin Lester has announced a policy to establish “wet house” facilities for the homeless of Wellington.
Wet houses are residential facilities for people in need to go and sleep, drink, and eat instead of living on the street. A wet house can provide optional rehabilitation and counselling programs.
The policy is a joint effort between Lester and other Labour candidates for local body councils across the Wellington region—Paul Eagle, Brian Dawson, and Lynda McGregor.
In 2009, a proposal to establish a wet house in Island Bay fell through due to an opposition by residents and lack of funding.
If Lester is elected mayor, the wet house would be the first in New Zealand.
Lester said he plans to establish a 30-40 bed “hostel-like environment,” that provides long term accommodation and access to rehabilitation and counselling services available in Wellington.
The policy has support from Stephanie McIntyre, director of the Downtown Community Ministry—one of the primary providers of help for Wellington’s homeless.
McIntyre said the policy was “an innovative solution to a long term problem.”
Wet houses have been effective in the US, Canada, and Australia in reducing alcoholism and getting homeless people into the right rehabilitation treatment.