Next month, a Christchurch man will mark a year since he left life on the street and was offered a rental house through innovative social housing and support programme, Housing First Christchurch.
He is still in his house a year later and is proud of his achievement. His lease was recently renewed for another year, which also gives him time to connect to his community and continue being supported by his Housing First key worker.
To date, the number of homeless people, known as kaewa, still in Housing First Christchurch homes has reached 40. Housing First Christchurch aims to house 100 kaewa by the middle of next year.
The Christchurch Methodist Mission is one of the six organisations running Housing First Christchurch. We’re proud to be its lead organisation and see Housing First Christchurch as another way in which we demonstrate our belief that everybody has the right to a warm, affordable and secure home.
Housing First Christchurch is modelled on an internationally-recognised model with the aim of ensuring instances of long-term homelessness are little more than rare, brief and non-recurring.
In September 2017, 170 men and 20 women in Christchurch were without homes and sleeping rough. People who have been homeless for a year or more, or had experienced four or more episodes of homelessness in the past three years qualify for Housing First support.
“We’ve seen kaewa turn their lives around simply because they’ve got a secure place to call home,” Housing First Christchurch team leader Nicola Fleming says.
Three kaewa are now employed and one is training to be a social worker. Without the security of a roof over their heads, this would have been impossible. “We see the change in their lives: the confidence that kaewa develop, the responsibility of looking after a property and then the determination to improve their lives further and connect with a new community.
“It’s also our job as Housing First Christchurch to help dispel the myths about homelessness and remove the stigma that homeless people face.”
People find themselves on the street for numerous reasons, often the consequence of a single upsetting or traumatic event. If drug or alcohol addiction were not the cause of homelessness, they may well become another issue that the person has to contend with.
The success of the programme nation-wide has prompted the government to invest $197m more into it, which will enable over 1000 more people across the country to be supported by Housing First.
If you have a one or two bedroom rental property, please consider leasing it to Housing First. We take responsibility for your property and manage it on your behalf. We guarantee rent for the duration of the lease, visit tenants weekly and do not charge management fees. In doing so, you play a key role in reducing the rate of homelessness in our city. For more information, please visit www.housingfirstchch.co.nz.
Housing First Christchurch is about to mark a year of housing Christchurch’s kaewa, or homeless.