With over 30 people now housed and a new central city base, it has been a busy few months for Housing First Christchurch.
10th October marked World Homeless Day and also the opening of the Housing First Christchurch office in St Asaph Street. On a day that raises awareness of homelessness, it was apt that people from throughout the community came together to celebrate the new base for an initiative that is ambitiously aiming to end homelessness in Christchurch.
CMM Executive Director Jill Hawkey spoke of this ambition by declaring in front of the guests "our goal is to end homelessness in Christchurch by 2020. We believe that everybody has the right to a warm, affordable and secure home."
After being based out of the CMM head office in Papanui since May, Housing First now has an office that is close to where the majority of homeless people are in Christchurch and is more accessible. Housing First Team Leader Nicola Fleming says that being close to the City Mission Night Shelter, Te Whare Roimata and Stanmore Road (where many of the homeless are during the day) means they are a lot more visible to the homeless community. "A lot of the people we have housed and support are in the east of the city so we are closer to them when they need help. A lot of services they use are near where the office is too," Nicola says.
The 31 people that Housing First Christchurch has housed had been continuously homeless for at least a year or had experienced four or more episodes of homelessness in the past three years. One person had been homeless off and on for over forty years before being housed by the team.
From being homeless last Christmas to now living in their own home, this Christmas will be special for all of them.
Below: Some of the people that have been housed by Housing First Christchurch so far. From clockwise, Gavin, JB, Uncle and Tubbs.