“They’re breathing life back into us, filling our lungs with air”: video case studies show how good, affordable homes give people hope, connection and stability
From life in an airless basement to being able to watch the sunset through a window and enjoy a cup of tea with neighbours – a set of videos released today by community housing providers shows the difference having a good home makes.
Scott Figenshow, the Chief Executive of Community Housing Aotearoa, says the video case studies feature interviews with people who have been helped into permanent, affordable homes by several community housing providers: The Salvation Army (https://www.salvationarmy.org.nz), Haumaru Housing (https://www.haumaruhousing.co.nz), the Housing Foundation (https://www.nzhf.org), and the Monte Cecilia Housing Trust (http://montececilia.org.nz).
The videos tell the stories of:
- Alex (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZiMialQR0Q&feature=youtu.be), who lived in a basement after being diagnosed with brain cancer. The basement had no windows and a piece of cardboard was all that separated his living quarters from the car fumes of the garage.
- Joan (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6CtVoqoIL4&feature=youtu.be), whose housing situation became unsettled and frightening after a series of events resulted in changes to her living circumstances.
- Mau and David (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Pm0Ff7hJ3g&feature=youtu.be) considered moving to Australia with their young family after having to move from their rental home after a number of years. Getting a mortage in Auckland seemed impossible, until they were offered a pathway into home ownership.
- Christine (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTFy79WgNWI&feature=youtu.be), who moved in with family after having a stroke. When this did not work out, she turned to Haumaru Housing for help.
- Rozeena (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuITXPshH0A&feature=youtu.be), who needed immediate housing support after a fire ravaged the rental property she and her children lived in. After a period in transitional housing, she was helped into a permanent home.
Mr Figenshow says the videos show the transformation possible when people are helped to find somewhere decent to live.
“Having a good home is really a foundation for having a good life, and that’s what we see in these videos. With assistance, people can go from feeling quite despairing about their circumstances to feeling settled, connected to their neighbours, and well-supported.”
Mr Figenshow says the videos bring to life some of the housing pressures observed by Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, during her visit to New Zealand in February. Ms Farha described New Zealand’s housing crisis as a human rights crisis, and called on the Government to do much more to solve it (https://www.hrc.co.nz/news/new-zealand-housing-crisis-requires-bold-human-rights-response-says-un-expert/).
“That message really resonated with community housing providers who believe housing is a fundamental human right,” says Mr Figenshow.
“It’s the reason they’re working with individuals, whānau and communities in need. Too many people are living in poor quality, substandard and unaffordable housing because that is what is available.
“We are changing the way we think and talk about housing in New Zealand. Everyone should have a good home so they can thrive. As a country, we all benefit when that happens. Life becomes settled and less stressful, children are able to stay in school and people in their jobs, and families are able to get the social and health services they need.”
He says community housing providers help thousands of New Zealanders into good, affordable homes each year and want to provide even more homes in partnership with government and the private sector.
“Let’s fix this housing mess together.”