Posted by Shelley Bryant on Jul 02, 2018
After finding someone sleeping in the St Joseph's churchyard, Upper Hutt churches started a housing trust.
The Upper Hutt Housing Trust (Homai te Whaiora) was formed in August 2016 as the trustees could see the shortage of emergency and transitional housing in Upper Hutt and the desperate situation this created for homeless people.
The Housing Trust grew from St Joseph's Justice, Peace & Development Group looking into the issue of homelessness three or four years ago. The group, which is concerned about people sleeping in their cars and living in camping grounds and motels wanted to find transitional accommodation for individuals.
People have some basic human rights, two of these is the right to shelter and the right to be fed. People on low incomes, inclusive of Benefit payments, currently have these rights denied to them.
This is due in no small way to housing been turned into a business for private operators, which began with the introduction of the Accommodation Supplement. That was set up to increase the business prospects of private landlords and move people out of State Housing.
Today, rents are governed by the market, which simply means that Landlords set the price of rents by deciding what they can charge. As long as there is limited housing and landlords charge about the same rent, then they can pretty much charge what they want and get it. The rental market needs to be regulated rather than be a free-market, or the State should provide rental properties to low and middle-income families.
It is a reality that housing costs are not affordable and put not only people out of accommodation, but everyday food out of people's reach, so they have to rely on charity or starve.
The vision of the Upper Hutt Housing Trust (Homai te Whaiora) is, “All of our people have suitable and sustainable housing”. The aims of the Housing Trust are to:
  • To empower individuals and families to source suitable, affordable, sustainable shelter
  • To promote pathways to ensure people living in insecure accommodation progress into secure accommodation
  • To advocate on behalf of people needing support to find safe, secure accommodation
  • To ensure individuals and families at risk of homelessness have support to lessen the risk
  • To provide interim, transitional housing where a need is determined
Since the Trust was formed it has successfully supported five families into housing by securing tenancies and giving landlords assurance that rents will be paid. The families have between them 11 children who were previously without housing and in the main are in one-parent families.
In November 2017 they were lucky to secure nine-room accommodation and have been able to provide more housing for four families and are negotiating to make the other rooms available. They currently have also secured 5 rental properties, however, every day they are having people come in need of housing.
The Trust urgently requires funding, as while it is a requirement of the people who are provided accommodation to pay for their accommodation and power costs, invariably these people have very limited income and come with debts that they are trying to manage so their income doesn’t cover the rent and power costs The Trust needs to charge to be able to provide the accommodation.
If you would like some more information about the Trust, please speak with me, or even visit their Facebook Page: