A bright sunny morning set the scene for the blessing of three new Christchurch Methodist Mission houses opened for families that urgently need stable housing.

As CMM kaumātua Dr Terry Ryan led the new tenants and other dignitaries through the new homes on June 10, one of those about to move in was a little girl just under two.

Dr Ryan prayed over each house individually.

The three new two-bedroom standalone houses provide for families that have been overlooked by the private rental sector. The houses, at Lesley Keast Place, have been built in partnership with the Housing Plus Charitable Foundation.

The houses increase the number available for families who would otherwise be homeless or living in unstable housing situations. At the end of March, 829 households in Christchurch were on the Ministry of Social Development's social housing register, nearly double the number at June 2016. Over 660 of those households urgently need housing.

All the families moving in are on the social housing register. Two were living in CMM transitional housing and would otherwise be homeless. The other was already living in another CMM housing community. Hornby represents a place that is better suited to their needs. Each family will pay income-related rent, which ensures the housing is affordable.

CMM Executive Director Jill Hawkey says the significant shortage of high-quality social housing in Christchurch meant these families had struggled to find affordable housing that meet their needs.

“So, this is a wonderful day for the families about to move in. The houses are high-spec, warm and comfortable and provide a great sense of security, particularly important to those with children. These families have found it difficult to secure housing privately and we’re delighted to be able to hand the keys over.”

Christchurch Methodist Mission social workers will support the families, who will also be able to access the wider services of the organisation.

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CMM's Jill Hawkey has a chat to a young tenant of the new community houses at the opening in Hornby on June 10