“It’s a beautiful place. I can’t ask for anything more.”
Those are the words of Edna, one of the 567 people Housing First Auckland (HFA) has helped last year. Edna’s life is looking up now; she’s in a permanent home and is optimistic and planning for the future. But earlier last year things weren’t so positive for the 61-year-old. Before lockdown, Edna spent six months at Women’s Refuge, after fleeing violence in the boarding house where she was staying. Edna’s story demonstrates the difference that Housing First makes to people’s lives, and the important role that community housing providers (CHPs) can play in delivering permanent homes.
Read about Edna’s journey, and the tenacity and courage of our kaimahi (support worker) on page 11 of our Briefing for Ministers 2021 (PDF). Of course, no story of 2020 is complete without considering the impact of COVID-19. Having a safe place to self-isolate was vital to the government’s COVID-19 elimination strategy and will be again if there is a further outbreak of widespread community transmission.
HFA supported over 1,000 people in motels during the 2020 lockdowns. This presented a unique opportunity to work closely with whānau, connecting them to housing and support. As the year closed, thanks to government investment, we were still supporting 464 people in motels who need permanent homes.
We were able to act swiftly in March. Within hours of a call from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, HFA was supporting people into motels. Within days, the backbone team built a system to onboard and allocate rooms across the entire city, helping over 500 people off the streets within a fortnight.
Our kaimahi (staff) were walking the streets of Auckland while there was community transmission of COVID-19, risking their personal health to put whānau first, and have continued to support whānau onsite in motels to enable the best outcomes possible.
Now is the time to move from a very successful crisis response to a long-term change where homelessness will be rare, brief and non-recurring. We look forward to continuing to work with government so it can be bold, inventive and long-term in its thinking and planning. We need access to quality, permanent housing supply, and we are ready to deliver some of that supply. We need investment in good quality, well-supported temporary accommodation until permanent homes are available. We must not lose sight of our most vulnerable people when housing is an issue for many.
Alongside ensuring there is enough and the right kind of housing, we must build on our work together to tackle those complex systemic issues related to health – particularly mental health – addiction, poverty, trauma and the effects of colonisation, to address and end homelessness.
Kōkiri ki runga
Kōkiri ki raro
Whakamaua kia tina! Tina! Haumi ē, hui ē! Tāiki ē!
Housing First Auckland