Wellington's most vulnerable receive housing boost

By Tema Hemi

Wellington's most vulnerable are looking forward to moving into newly built family units that will keep them out of the cold this winter.  Housing Minister Phil Twyford and Urban Developent Minister Nanaia Mahuta were in Mt Cook today to launch the Housing First programme. 

The newly built Te Māra apartments include 104 new social housing units ranging between one and four bedrooms meaning 200 more of Wellington's long-term homeless will find shelter this winter. 

CEO of Ngāti Kahungunu Whānau Services, Ali Hamilin-Paenga says, "One of the key things that is a challenge for us is the actual housing, the availability of housing to support our people."

The government's Wellbeing Budget has allocated $200mil for housing 2,700 long-term homeless in New Zealand 

Minister of Housing Phil Twyford says, "The programmes will be delivered by two experienced Wellington organisations, DCM [Downtown Community Ministry] and Ngāti Kahungunu Whānau Services, and both of these organisations have a strong history and a strong track record."

Ngāti Kahungunu Whānau Services was established in the 70's under two influential leaders, Huia Timu and Topsy Ratahi, to help the homeless of that time, who were mainly Māori. 

Hamlin-Paenga says, "As we know, the market isn't looking great at the moment but through our relationships with existing providers and also our knowledge of the area we will do our best to house our people."

Twyford agrees that the initiative is much needed, "We recognise that too many New Zealanders have been left out in the cold and have experienced the sharp end of the housing crisis."

With over 45 years experience working with whānau on the streets, Hamilin-Paenga is ready to make a difference. 

"This is about us being a part of the solution. We are excited by the fact we are apart of the solution."

Ngāti Kahungunu Whānau Services is under no illusions that they can do it alone and acknowledge that a collaborative effort is required.