10 Oct 2019

Māngere emergency housing development provides hope for families

7:05 pm on 10 October 2019

As the waitlist for state housing reaches record levels, a new emergency housing development in Auckland is providing some relief for families trying to find an affordable place to live.

Bernie Smith of Monte Cecilia Housing Trust.

Bernie Smith of Monte Cecilia Housing Trust. Photo: Eva Corlett

The new 'Windrush' development, which has been built by the Monte Cecilia Housing Trust, opened today in Māngere.

Eleven families have already moved into the two-bedroom units, including the Roberts who used to live in a south Auckland motel.

With three children, including a newborn, life in a two-bed studio wasn't easy.

"It has been very stressful trying to find a place of our own, to have a space of our own as a family," said Joanna Roberts.

"We have moved here earlier this year and with the hope to start a new life here, and moving from place to place is not easy..."

Then, a glimmer of hope, an apartment at the new Monte Cecilia Housing Trust emergency housing development became available.

Ms Roberts said her new home was like heaven, and she was incredibly grateful and humbled.

More than 100 families will be housed at the development, which has 30 units including five for those with access needs.

Monte Cecilia head Bernie Smith said Windrush was a safe place for families who had done it tough.

He said the housing development offered hope, love, support and a future for people who needed it.

In the past financial year, he said, Monte Cecilia had housed more than 1600 children.

Half of those were aged six and under.

"Children at that age are traumatised. We see it in later years often in rebellion in teenage years and then maybe criminal activity and other activities," he said.

One of the people at today's opening was Sister Mary Foy, who helped establish the first Monte Cecilia home in Hillsborough during the 1980s.

She said that while today was a success, it was heartbreaking that so many were still living without safe and warm accommodation.

"You know in the 90's we really thought we could end homelessness in Aotearoa, that was our goal and look at it now, it's just so much worse," she said.

"So yes, it's heartbreaking really to hear and to see what is going on in our city, but not only in our city, throughout the country."

Despite this, Sister Mary said she still believed in a New Zealand where everyone had a roof over their head.

But she was realistic that homelessness wasn't a quick fix.

"We must end homelessness, it's imperative that we as a society care for our most vulnerable people...every family has a right to adequate, affordable, safe housing."

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