Over the past year, the need for public housing throughout Aotearoa New Zealand has increased significantly.As a result, our housing teams have experienced marked growth of client numbers, needs amongst client whānau, and staff numbers. In addressing an issue that has featured regularly in the news over the past year, we are incredibly grateful for the amazing kaimahi who provide housing pathways that lead to hope and transformation in the lives of whānau they journey with. Community Housing – Auckland The growth of Community Housing in Auckland has led to the establishment of two departments to ensure continued efficient and effective service delivery.
- Community Housing – Tenancy Services focuses on acquiring property, managing tenancies and working with owners and property managers. Regular liaison with tenants is provided through our Tenancy Managers.
- Community Housing – Support Services
focuses on journeying with clients so that they are equipped to enter and sustain long-term independent tenancies in the community. Our supports team holds regular catchups with clients.
Our response to homelessness
Tā mātou whakautu ki te āhuatanga kāinga kore
HOUSEHOLDS MOVED FROM TRANSITIONAL TO PERMANENT HOUSING
HOUSES PROVIDED BY VISIONWEST (LONG-TERM AND TRANSITIONAL)
“Moving into Visionwest accommodation really boosted my confidence and motivated me to buck up my ideas. I was determined not to waste this opportunity.”
The past year has seen a 40% growth in the number of properties Visionwest has available for transitional housing in Auckland and Canterbury. Over half of this growth has been due to Visionwest taking on the management of 60 Kāinga Ora properties in Manurewa and Papatoetoe.
Behind the growth, the challenges of Covid were again evident, both in terms of client whānau need and the needs of our team members. To encourage one another, the staff team met online every day for over 100 days as they continued to support whānau.
Nationally, the need for community housing has grown. In early 2022, Stats NZ reported there were more than 25,500 households waiting for a home, with 89% of those in significant and urgent need. Of these, more than 10,000 people were living in emergency accommodation such as motels, while 5,226 households were waiting to be transferred out of public housing that is no longer appropriate.
The number of whānau actively engaged in services and programmes to support life improvements and the number graduating from these programmes have been significant and positive milestones this year.
The increase of referrals for whānau with complex needs such as mental health, domestic violence, and alcohol and drug use over the past year has greatly impacted the Support Services team in terms of workload.
Staff worked tirelessly to support and provide housing pathways for 60 of our clients following the closure of the West Auckland motel which Visionwest had managed over the past two years, including during the Covid lockdowns.
Community Housing Canterbury
Being regarded as one of the leaders in Sustaining Tenancies and transitional housing in Canterbury, despite the year’s challenges, is rewarding. The year saw the number of transitional housing places increase by 30. This was required to help meet the demand in Canterbury where 450 adults and 480 tamariki are living in motels every night.
A new transitional housing model was commenced at the Puna Aroha site in response a recognition that, over lockdown, 95% of transitional housing referrals were related directly to domestic violence. The site provides a safe place for vulnerable wahine and tamariki to heal from their trauma and rebuild their mana. It is comprised of 11 x two-bedroom standalone homes with an office on site to deliver support programmes.
The support groups we initiated amongst our long-term housing neighbourhood in Kaiapoi have continued to grow with new groups and leaders springing up. These groups have empowered tenants to build their own supportive communities.
An increase in staff numbers has put pressure on resources, especially space but this should be overcome once the new offices are completed.
Our response to homelessness
Tā mātou whakautu ki te āhuatanga kāinga kore
Whānau received Sustaining Tenancy support
Of people housed had been homeless for 6 years or more
Toni-Anne didn’t choose to be homeless – the circumstances that led her to having nowhere to stay could happen to any one of us – then an unexpected knock on the door saw her life changed forever.
Since 2017, Visionwest has been part of Housing First Auckland, a collective of five housing providers who are working together to end homelessness in Tāmaki Makarau.
In the past year, the collective has placed 182 households into supportive housing – that is a permanent rental home with ongoing support designed to help whānau sustain those tenancies. These households represent over 220 individuals of which 93 were children.
These figures reflect the profile of many of Tāmaki Makarau’s homeless with 72% of people in the Housing First programme being individuals living without dependent children. Families with dependent children make up the other 28% of those in the programme.
32% of the client whānau of Housing First Auckland are from West Auckland which is where the bulk of Visionwest’s properties are located.
The increasingly high cost of housing in Aotearoa New Zealand presents a challenge to community housing providers who can, for the most part, no longer afford to purchase and own the properties they manage. This has led to a housing model that focuses on renting properties from private landlords for use as social housing. 91% of Housing First’s housing stock is now sourced from property owners who are in the private rental market.
Housing First Auckland
HOUSING FIRST Collective Stats
1 March 2017 – 31 July 2022
ADULTS & FAMILY WITH CHILDREN
My Whare is an innovative response to housing youth in Aotearoa New Zealand and involves placing state of the art one-bedroom studios on residential properties to house young people who have had a challenging start.
Luana’s life lost its sense of direction when her mother passed away. She lived in Australia with her stepfather before returning to Aotearoa New Zealand.
“I originally came to Visionwest because I needed to apply for the Youth Payment and searched online for someone who could help me with that. Then I looked for a place to live and came across My Whare. It looked perfect for me and, about the same time, Kendra, my Visionwest Youth Coach contacted me about it.”
Since then, Luana has moved into a My Whare hosted by a Glen Eden Baptist Church family and is enrolled in a local high school.
“Having a place to live in, and an awesome family to live with, has changed my life. Now I feel like tomorrow is going to be different. I can make plans and the stress I felt before is gone.”
Luana acknowledges the mental health struggles faced by many young people and has a dream to become a mental health worker supporting them. She also believes that, with the newfound stability in her life, she can be a positive role model to her siblings.
“I want to use my story to bring change and to influence my younger siblings. When I was younger, I didn’t have any role model, but I want to be that for my younger brothers and sisters.
My Whare has provided Luana with hope and a sense of direction for her life and opened opportunities she would never have otherwise had.