Around 1% of New Zealanders are homeless. In 2020, our homelessness rate was the highest among the 35 high-income countries in the OECD (The Borgen Project). Visionwest Community Housing is working to address the issue of homelessness in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Visionwest began its Community Housing Service after chance remark from a Housing New Zealand (now Kāinga Ora) official to a Visionwest Chaplain. “You’re always down here with people needing housing. Why doesn’t the Trust do something about it?”
Visionwest took up the challenge and, in 2004, partnered with the Government to purchase its first emergency house. Situated on what is now the Visionwest Glen Eden campus, Kharece House provided emergency accommodation with wraparound supports for women and their children. At the time, it was the only emergency housing in West Auckland.
That move into emergency housing was the start of a journey for Visionwest – a journey that continues today. With an underlying belief that a safe and secure place to live is a basic human right, and a desire to see the end of homelessness in our nation, we began to purchase and renovate old houses to be used as comfortable and safe affordable rentals for those who were struggling to find a home. As our reputation in the housing sector grew, we found ourselves in a position of being able to construct new housing and, therefore, house an increasing number of homeless families.
Children currently housed.
Adults currently housed.
Following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, local churches and organisations rallied to answer the various needs for food, housing, and personal possessions. One of these churches was Rangiora Baptist Church. In response to the needs of those around them, the church established a number of community programmes but could not meet the obvious need for housing. Visionwest made a commitment to help them on that journey, and Visionwest’s Canterbury Housing Team was formed.
In 2015, the Government announced a Housing First pilot scheme for Auckland with Visionwest selected as one of the collective’s five members.
The Housing First programme is provided by a collective of four housing providers that are working together to end homelessness in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. The Housing First website states, “Guided by our Kaupapa Māori framework Tāiki and the five principles of Housing First, we walk alongside whānau so they can access appropriate housing and wraparound services. People experiencing homelessness can face complex challenges, including mental health, substance use, disconnection to whānau and whenua, and trauma. To begin healing, whānau must first have a home.”
As part of the Housing First collective Visionwest works to provide homes and support for these whānau. In doing so, Visionwest adopts the widely recognised principles of the Housing First programme that underpine the programmes success. These are:
1. Immediate access to housing with no housing readiness conditions
2. Whānau choice and self-determination concerning their future
3. A recovery approach, supporting whānau to overcome difficulties that led to homelessness
4. Individualised supports, tailored to the needs of each whānau
5. Social and community connections to help whānau find belonging
Wraparound Housing Support
A crucial factor in the successful outcomes achieved by Visionwest Community Housing is the strong and proactive relationship we offer each of our tenants. We enter into an agreement with each tenant that promises more than just a house. We provide optional Support Navigator assistance to help whānau set goals and move forward with their life plans.
The wraparound support offered by Visionwest means we are able to link our tenants with our other support services which include counselling, money mentoring, and food support. We also have good relationships with other community organisations who play a part in bringing hope and transforming lives. We encourage tenants to use these services when appropriate.
Into the Future
At the time Visionwest began its community housing service, West Auckland had the highest housing waiting list in the country and there was a serious shortage of affordable rental houses on the market. Almost 20 years later, little has changed and Visionwest remains at the frontline of meeting the community housing need in West Auckland, Canterbury and other parts of Auckland.
It’s our belief that every person has a right to a safe and dry home, and that the provision of a stable home provides that foundation for a stable and positive society, that drives Visionwest as we continue to work towards achieving our vision of addressing homelessness in New Zealand.
Learn more about Visionwest community housing services here.
Regions We Support
Visionwest Community Housing is in the following regions: