Wellington Mayor Andy Foster says 'overall, the city is safe' despite reports of increasingly dangerous CBD

Wellington Mayor Andy Foster calls the city "overall, safe" despite reports of unprovoked attacks and increasingly dangerous CBD streets. 

Public safety concerns in the city have been front and centre of a political spat in recent weeks after National housing spokesperson Nicola Willis said she didn't feel safe walking in the CBD, blaming "an explosion" of emergency accommodation in the area. 

But Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson accused Willis of "stigmatising" homeless people and those living in emergency accommodation.

Since that spat, Newshub has spoken with several people who say they no longer feel safe in Wellington's CBD - one the victim of an unprovoked attack who said it's no longer the city he grew up in. 

Between 2015 and 2020 assaults in the area spiked by 35 percent, police data shows. A Stuff report last week, citing documents obtained via an Official Information Act request, revealed even police staff didn't feel safe at night when walking to their cars in Wellington amid increased COVID-19 alert levels last year and last month.  

But Foster told The AM Show, "overall, the city is safe".

He acknowledged, however, social housing was bringing problems to the city and those in the accommodation needed more support. 

"There are definitely times and places it doesn't feel safe, and sometimes that it isn't safe and that's not good enough."

But the Government has said social housing has nothing to do with the feelings of unease on Wellington's streets - and to infer so is "dog-whistle politics".

Foster said the problem pointed to several systemic issues and would take a collective response to resolve.

"It has been since the lockdown and COVID that the number of people in emergency housing … in Wellington has tripled, so we obviously want to know; where have these people come from?

"Is this a reflection of society as a whole that the number of people needing emergency housing has gone up so much?"

Newshub revealed earlier this month that in the three months to December 2020, the Government spent a whopping $82.5 million on emergency accommodation, compared to $6.6 million during the same period in 2017.