Transitional housing complex helps families

3 unit

De Paul House has formally opened its 10-unit transitional housing complex in Akoranga Drive, Northcote, the latest addition to their increasing number of properties that provide safe, warm and healthy places for families facing homelessness.

DPH board chairperson Brendan Fitzgerald said that 13 families with 18 adults and 13 children have been housed in these units since they have commenced the provision of services here. The units were opened on December 1, 2021.

“Five (families) have since moved on to their own home, and have received support from De Paul House with the practical necessities essential to furnish their own home, and with social work advocacy, early childhood and learning centre programmes,” he said.

The buildings were part of the accommodation facilities of the former Hato Petera College. The area where the facilities were situated was purchased by Auckland diocese in 1989.

Auckland diocese general manager James van Schie called the opening of the new transitional units a “proud day for the Hato Petera legacy”.

“We’ve been working to repurpose the wider site, and this is a great opportunity to address the critical housing shortage in our city and diocese,” he said.

“But we remain in active consultation with the wider Hato Petera whanau; the men and women who are very proud of their time in this college, and want to see this incredible place really shine again and be fully restored to a contemporary need.”

Mr van Schie said that the diocese had held a lot of dialogue “with our Hato Petera whanau in trying to understand what the future holds here”.

“This is a four hectare-plus site, so there is a lot of opportunity to continue the whakapapa of the site, and the diocese is committed to that,” he said.

“We are committed to holding the site together. Bishop Pat (Dunn) made that commitment, that we weren’t looking to sell or alienate this land. I think this place will be a real beacon of hope for the future.”

Auckland Bishop Stephen Lowe blessed framed inspirational images that will adorn each of the ten units.

Bishop Lowe said that homelessness is “actually a whole societal issue as a nation we should be ashamed of”.

“This land teems with life, but unfortunately not everybody in our society gets that same access to the basics of life,” he said.

He praised the DPH team for the work that they do.

“In terms of the Gospel we just heard, we are called to be salt and light,” the bishop said. “You (DPH team) flavour the lives of the people you serve with hope. You give them care that they need, and link them with the people who can help them and journey with them.”

Housing associate minister Poto Williams said that the Government remains committed to “ending homelessness”.

“In our recent Budget, we showed our commitment to delivering more public and transitional housing. And we’ve committed further funding to reach our goal of adding 18,000 public houses and transitional houses by 2024, so that more New Zealanders can have a place called home,” she said.

DPH currently runs 44 transitional housing facilities, including the ten Akoranga units, 11 social houses, and one home from a generous, philanthropic, Catholic landlord. They are presently housing 60 families, which are made up of 89 adults and 170 children.

Inside one of the new units

DPH general manager Jan Rutledge, QSM, said that the staff worked really hard last year, preparing the spaces and interviewing the people who would be accommodated, all during the Covid lockdown.

“The thing that is different about these [new] units is: they are bigger,” she said, explaining that bigger families “are hardest to house, both to secure permanent housing, but also transitional housing”.

Ms Rutledge said that the unit that was opened for viewing that morning had five bedrooms. “It can sleep ten people at full capacity. It actually had a family here of nine. They moved out a couple of weeks ago,” she said.

Ms Rutledge said that, apart from the transitional and social housing, they have one property that they are renting out.

“It’s a new model. We’ve been offered it rent-free by a very philanthropic Catholic landlord,” she said.

She said that they are currently renting it out to a family in the medium rental price range, and they save the payment on behalf of the family.

“We have moved one family through after three years into home ownership using that saving plan,” she said.

Ms Rutledge observed that Covid accentuated the divide between the haves and the have-nots.

And while DPH is always happy to receive help in terms of food and basic necessities, she said that zoo and movie passes would be deeply appreciated.

“It is a luxury, but it gives them an opportunity to do what all New Zealanders are able to do. It’s too expensive otherwise. We still hear stories of families who have never been to the movies together because they can’t afford it,” she said.

“How wonderful it would be to be able to offer that. It would make the families’ hearts lift.”



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Rowena Orejana