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Home for Whangarei’s Homeless

Home for Whangarei’s Homeless

Some of Whangarei’s homeless could soon have the option of a cheap roof over their heads if a Northland DHB-supported initiative comes to fruition.

The idea is to provide a safe night-shelter for the homeless, including those with a mental illness, thereby reducing the risk of violation. It is expected that this initiative would also free up Mental Health Service resources.

The project is being driven by Mental Health Service (MHS) co-ordinator Raewyn Yakas, in partnership with Te Awhi Whanau Chartitable Trust - a non-government organisation that has contracts with the Northland DHB Mental Health Service to provide both residential rehabilitation and community support to people who suffer with mental illness.

“Te Awhi Whanau (TAW) and I work closely together on a day-to-day basis. We have often talked informally of the lack of affordable accommodation options and how this impacts on the MHS, the individuals and society in general. Homelessness is an increasing issue of concern throughout the country and world and affects all walks of life. It does not impact only on those with a mental illness but can, of course, contribute to a person developing a mental illness eg: depression, anxiety etc.”

She said that pressure on Northland DHB resources is ever-increasing and, while community projects to support those in need are also increasing, access to the funding dollar isn’t.
Therefore, due to the lack of funds Ms Yakas is calling for donations for set-up needs of household goods, including furniture, appliances, linen and cleaning devices.

The project team has just secured a Housing New Zealand facility where the accommodation would be self-funded at $15 per night per person. There is no set limit to the number of nights the lodger could stay but they would be asked to leave the property each morning, returning in the evening.

The facility would consist of multiple rooms, including single, double, dorm-style, and have a live-in on-site manager who would oversee the administration and cleaning needs.

“It is expected and hoped that when word gets out and more people use it then the profits will enable paid staff, for example both manager and cleaning etc.

“The overall goal is to offer a safe alternative to sleeping under the bridge or on a park bench; where those at risk can be identified and supported to access appropriate community-based services reducing the risk of further negative impact on our health system and society in general – the big picture.

“Te Awhi Whanau and I have worked in partnership previously developing a community- based 'user pays' group home for those with a mental illness and this has worked very successfully. So working together again was a given - a good little team. We have no set formal positions. I think that our success is due to sharing a common goal and working as a team.”

Ms Yakas added that the site would be drug, alcohol and gang patch-free.

To help set up the project, contact Raewyn at: Raewyn.Yakas@northlanddhb.org.nz

ENDS

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