Latest cherry picking of homelessness data allegation is from @MaxRashbrooke

I cherry picked data again by plotting it in full using the data labels and headings in the data tables at the original data source. I stand accused.

Max Rashbrooke is the latest to spit the dummy when reminded that the Otago report on homelessness actually was about the seriously housing deprived; their words, not mine.

UOW researcher Dr Kate Amore, from the Health Research Council-funded He Kainga Oranga/Housing and Health Research Programme, measured the “severely housing deprived” population.

Table 2 below is from the media release Rashbrooke suggested I read to enlighten myself as to what homelessness is and is not. I am going to commit my third strike at cherry picking with snap-shots of the tables from the original source. I am a recidivist cherry picker.


Source: 3 June 2016, Homelessness accelerates between censuses, News, University of Otago, New Zealand.

Labour, the Greens and Max Rashbrooke all conflated living with friends and family or in commercial accommodation with homelessness. Saying that serious housing deprivation has gone up is not much of a sound bite compared to claiming homelessness is up with the associated images of people living rough or in cars. Who is spinning, who is cherry picking and who just can’t handle the truth? Homelessness has not increased under the National party government.

A statistical definition of homelessness that includes 70% of data observations as people living with friends and relatives on a temporary basis is miles away from sleeping rough, in a car or emergency accommodation such as a shelter or refuge run by an NGO. But at one point the Otago study does include these vastly different social situations under the same heading

“If the homeless population were a hundred people, 70 are staying with extended family or friends in severely crowded houses, 20 are in a motel, boarding house or camping ground, and 10 are living on the street, in cars, or in other improvised dwellings. They all urgently need affordable housing.”

Definitions are supposed to clarify, not confuse but the Statistics New Zealand definition does

Homelessness is defined as a living situation where people with no other options to acquire safe and secure housing are: without shelter, in temporary accommodation, sharing accommodation with a household, or living in uninhabitable housing.

The Oxford dictionary definition of homeless is “ (Of a person) without a home, and therefore typically living on the streets”.

Homelessness is different from those living in a hotel paid for by WINZ pending rehousing.  Sleeping in the streets, in a car or living in emergency accommodation and waiting in a hotel for social housing are separate policy problems.


Source: Severe housing deprivation in Aotearoa/New Zealand 2001-2013 Kate Amore (2016).

Some of the seriously housing deprived data from the Otago study show the system failing, such as sleeping rough or in a car. Other parts of the data shows the social safety net working when people are in a hotel or emergency accommodation pending a move to better quarters.

Including in the same definition of homelessness someone who is sleeping in the street or in a car with someone who is in the queue for social housing but booked into a hotel insults those who are homeless. This spin mixes up situations where the social safety net has failed with situations where it is working to help those down on their luck but perhaps not to our full satisfaction.

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