26% of Hamiltonian's live in the most deprived areas of the city and 17% live in the least deprived areas according to the Waikato Plan report on Socio Economic deprivation in the Waikato. (link at end of blog)
Housing, health, education, employment and crime are all issues worthy of discussion based on the data in the report. While the data does need to be updated, as the new census data and other recent data is captured, the report indicates clearly that Hamilton and other parts of the wider Waikato cannot be complacent about the well-being its people.
Decisions makers and community development agencies, of which Hamilton City Council is one, must factor the overall well-being of all people and communities into the discussion. Ability to pay to pay rates is one key consideration. Access to employment, skills training and education becomes a very relevant factors. Also the availability and cost of housing is important. These things are interconnected.
People want safe communities, and we know that healthy connected communities where people know and care about each other reduces crime. This is why Community Houses, playgrounds, affordable local recreation opportunities, libraries and supported community/charitable organisations make a huge difference. This is why I was pleased to see a bit more money going to community grants, to help those organisations that work directly with our most vulnerable, our most deprived people, our wonderful, diverse communities.
What is the role of the City Council?
Council alone can't solve everything but can and should;
Support (in partnership with others) local community organisations and charities to support our people,
Provide free and low cost access to community events, green spaces and recreational opportunities, to create connected and happy communities,
Support communities hubs whether these are libraries or community houses, to bring people together for education, support and social connection,
Create and support opportunities for affordable homes (rented or owned). This means tackling supply, land prices and diversity of housing types,
Grow a city that is better for all residents and enriches lives not just bigger city with bigger rates,
Keep the well-being of people at the centre of all discussions about plans and strategies,
Keep Council services, and rates movements, fair and affordable,
Work collaboratively with others to tackle socioeconomic deprivation in the Waikato.
Looking after the City's existing assets, improving the well-being of our people, and creating a better future are guiding considerations for me in the decisions I make.