The Society of St Vincent de Paul Christchurch’s (SSVDPC) $2.25 million housing project for young and vulnerable families is expected to be completed by September this year, with the aim of having tenants moved in by the end of the year.
SSVDP Christchurch area president Mike Daly told NZ Catholic that they are still hoping to raise an estimated $700,000 for the construction project, which is the first of its kind to be undertaken by their organisation.
“We had a block of land that was unoccupied. It was bequeathed to us many, many years ago, and it wasn’t being utilised in any way. So, we basically investigated what was the greatest need in our community,” Mr Daly said.
He said SSVDPC had a conversation with St John of God Haora Trust (SJG), a group active in the social services scene in Christchurch, and was told that “there is a real need for this kind of housing for the families and the people they (SJG) help”.
In Christchurch, housing for vulnerable young people, who make up the highest proportion of overall homelessness statistics, appeared to be the greatest need. Data from the Ministry of Social Development recorded a 68 per cent increase in clients aged 16-24 needing emergency housing special needs grants in 2020.
“That gave us the encouragement to go down that track,” Mr Daly said.
The Pavitt Street Social Housing Project in Richmond is a collaborative project between SSVDPC and SJG, which will give up to seven families access to warm, affordable and secure housing.
“A lot of these young mums and families find it very hard to get accommodation because they don’t have references, they are considered risky, and they find it almost impossible to be able to secure a flat,” Mr Daly said.
“The idea is to get them on their feet and for them to be able to show that they are good tenants, and to be able to get a reference from the organisation to allow them to go out into the community and to rent.”
While they are renting there, these young parents will be given wrap-around support provided by SJG’s HOPE programme (Housing Opportunities for Parental Enhancement).
“We’ll be providing accommodation, and we’d also be helping some of the support around that wrap-around services . . . (like) cooking education or CV preparation,” he added.
Mr Daly said the housing will be available to rent from six months to two years, with SJG determining who will be given the opportunity to occupy the housing units.
Mr Daly said this will be considered a special project of the SSVDPC, and they had set up the Ozanam Trust for this purpose.
“It is managed by a trust that was set up, which is connected to St Vincent De Paul, but runs independently. It has a majority of Vincentians on the trust,” he said.
Mr Daly said that the pandemic has indirectly affected the project in the sense that some of the donors’ funds had dried up. One that he knows of depends on casinos for funds, but those had been closed during the previous lockdowns.
However, he said SSVDPC are confident they will be able to raise the remaining amount needed to complete the project.
Those who would like to donate can give through https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/pavitt-street-social-housing-project or email Mr Daly at [email protected] .