One vulnerable group within society that could be forgotten in times of crisis are the homeless. Recognising the urgent need to make shelter available during Covid-19 for those who are currently unhoused has led the Government to turn to community housing providers like VisionWest Housing for an answer. Recently, James Widgery, General Manager of Community Housing at VisionWest, spoke to Radio Rhema about the issue of homelessness in the age of Covid-19 and what VisionWest are doing to help.
“We’ve been fortunate out in West Auckland to access a building that was to be used as a hotel,” says James. “When Covid arrived, it was unfinished and so the Government helped the owner complete it as an Essential Service, and then for us to be able to use it over this time for those who are coming out of homelessness and needing somewhere safe to stay.
The provision of this and other buildings throughout the community doesn’t mean the job of housing the homeless is easy, however. “Complex issues lead to homelessness,” explains James. “There are often health issues, or relational issues such as domestic violence or family breakdown. Drug and alcohol issues can also play a part. At the core, however, is often a lack of trust in a system that has failed them in the past. Our challenge is to encourage a person to trust us enough that they will accept our offer of housing.
“It’s about using unconditional love and respect to break through to those who, at the moment, cannot trust. We do that, right from the outset, by letting them know they are loved, letting them know we are here with them. The result has been some amazing stories of transformation.”
Over lockdown, VisionWest has placed over 35 households in two local motel complexes which we have been given the use of. To hear the full interview with James, including two wonderful good news stories about transformed lives, CLICK HERE.