An article last week (Feb 18, 2021) from Checkpoint reporter Nita Blake-Persen, detailed some startling figures relating to the ongoing housing crisis in New Zealand:
There are now more than 4,000 children growing up in motels across New Zealand.
In September last year (the most recent figures available), there were 3,350 households with one adult and at least one child in motels.
There were another 800 households with two adults and at least one child.
As of June last year, there were more than 1,000 children who had been in motels between three and six months, more than 500 living there between 6 and 12 months, and nearly 100 who’d been there between one and two years.
The housing crisis is a perennial issue which has serious societal impacts.
James Widgery, General Manager of Visionwest Community Housing, says, “We must not downplay the importance of housing and the impact it has on an individual. Sure, it’s about shelter and warmth and those tangible things but it’s more than that. It’s about children growing up in a settled environment; it’s about being able to make friends and know what it is to grow up as part of a stable community. The lack of permanent housing results in some families having to move often. That means children are sometimes changing friends, schools and entire communities every few months.”
The face of homelessness
The RNZ article mentioned above tells the story of Auckland woman Skye Richardson who spent six months of last year living in a motel with her four children after the rental she was living in was sold.
Speaking of her experience she said, “There was me, my two babies in the double bed and then there was my oldest son who’s 10 with his little sister who’s seven in one single bed.”
When she eventually managed to find a place, the rent was $700 – the bulk of her $940 weekly income. She took it because she said they had to get out of the motel, “Kids are meant to be free, they’re meant to be kids, they’re meant to play. They’re not meant to be stuck behind what you might as well say are jail cell bars, stuck in one room. It’s not right at all.”
Throughout Auckland and Canterbury, Visionwest currently houses –
TRANSITIONAL HOUSING (whānau waiting for permanent housing):
- 176 children
- 108 adults
- 377 children
- 355 adults
Of these, we have housed 257 children and 202 adults through Housing First where Visionwest is part of a collective of five organisations working together to end chronic homelessness in Auckland.
The goal of Visionwest Community Housing, like other organisations who find themselves at the heart of the housing crisis, is to bring an end to homelessness. It’s a huge goal but a necessary one. People who are homelessness often face a number of other complex challenges and, until the homelessness is addressed, those challenges may remain unanswered.