VisionWest’s Community Housing is different. It’s about providing homes.
Whether it’s emergency accommodation, housing for the chronically homeless, or long-term or transitional solutions, we work to provide homes for those who need them. The homes come with access to all of the wrap-around services we offer such as budgeting, counselling, and the whanau centre – whatever is needed to support whanau in need.
James Widgery – Community Housing General Manager for VisionWest – takes time from his crazy schedule to tell us a bit more.
My role is to help resource the team to do everything needed to support the whanau. I walk beside them, making sure properties and assets are looked after as well as looking for new properties and innovative ways to get people into housing.
We have a big presence in the community. Sometimes we get referrals from other community services or the police. Sometimes it’s through word of mouth between those sleeping rough.
Some of our tenants come from being chronically homeless, or in emergency situations. Some are already on the social housing waiting list, but there aren’t enough houses. Many people don’t realise they can get help or even how to get on the waiting list.
It can take a long time to build trust with some of our tenants. They are often afraid – mothers, for example, are afraid they might have their kids taken away. We can walk people through those fears and navigate with them a pathway to putting a roof over their head.
Within our own team at VisionWest many of us have empathy from our own experiences of hardship but there’s a difference between acknowledged and lived experience. One of our peer support workers first came to us through needing emergency housing. That was eight years ago. She’s now in a house and is training to become a qualified Community Worker. She says to others: “I was where you are, and you can be where I am.” There’s a lot of power in that.
The people who work here bring patience, persistence, and perseverance – combined with love. It’s an amazing combination for our tenants, many who have been walked away from for being ‘too difficult’. With stability and love it’s amazing what can happen.