Vinnies’ innovative housing project to house seven young families

Catholic voluntary organisation St Vincent de Paul (Vinnies) has come up with an innovative housing project that will see seven young Christchurch families at a time into warm, dry, secure and affordable homes.

So far 55 per cent of the funds needed to complete the project are already confirmed and a fundraising strategy is in place.

The Christchurch City Council has granted building consent. An independent estimate of the housing project cost has been completed and an architect contracted.

The Pavitt Street Social Housing Project – due to open later this year – is an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young families that have no place to call home, says Vinnies president Mike Daly.

He says the housing situation for young people in Christchurch is acute, with large numbers of young people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity.

“In 2020, the Ministry of Social Development recorded a 68 per cent increase in clients aged 16-24 needing emergency housing special needs grants.

“Young people make up the highest proportion of overall homelessness statistics with more than half younger than 25 years of age.”

Back in 2018, it affected 12 per cent of the greater Christchurch area’s 15-24 year olds.

Homelessness also comes with a host of other issues. It creates a significant barrier to pursuing vocational, educational and training opportunities. It’s especially hard when the young people are also parents, Daly says.

“Mothers are forced to sleep on someone’s couch with their infant while others bounce from place to place in between stints in emergency accommodation.”

Young parents on low incomes struggle to find suitable housing and often require significant advocacy to access government support or secure a tenancy from a private landlord.

“Some are too young to be placed in a motel or sign a tenancy agreement” Daly notes.

Vinnies and St John of God (SJG) are hoping the Pavitt Street Social Housing Project will help relieve this problem.

Seven housing units (see image) will be built for young families who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.

They will be available to rent from three months to two or more years.

Tenants will also receive wrap-around support via the HOPE programme which has been run by SJG Waipuna since 2015, says St John of God CEO Sarah Williams.

Besides physical and mental health services, HOPE provides assistance to develop basic life skills, parenting education and training, pathway planning, support to access employment opportunities and assistance to transition to private housing.

By providing both housing and specialist support, Vinnies hopes to enable families to transition from housing insecurity/homelessness to housing stability.

Daly says in general the parents will be aged between 17-24 and their weekly rent will be determined on a family-by-family basis, taking factors such as income and number of people in the household into account.

The Society is collaborating with the St John of God Hauora Trust on the project to ensure both housing and support services work together for the families.



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