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Funded by New Zealand Red Cross, the series of six hui are designed to bring together those living on the streets and find the services and support systems they need to move forward with their lives.
Collective coordinator Brenda Lowe-Johnson says the aim of the initiative is to put roofs over 30 people’s heads as well as find regular employment for them by May 2016.
“Eleven people registered at the first hui that we held; nine of those are now in houses and six of those have jobs,” she says. “It’s a very encouraging start and as we gain the trust of those we want to help, the number of people coming along will increase. People want to help themselves.”
Attendance at the second hui at the end of September more than doubled that of the initial meeting, with 25 homeless people coming through the doors of St Pauls Trinity Pacific Church on Cashel St.
Mrs Lowe-Johnson said the inspiration came to hold the forums after sleeping in her car for a week in 2012 to make a stand about the city’s housing crisis.
“During that time I saw families with children sleeping in cars and it just took my heart. I needed to do something; everyone has a right to life’s basic needs, including shelter.”
“These people want to work. They want a home but everything that goes with it is too expensive. Our aim at these meetings is to ask – not tell – them what they need, then start breaking down the barriers that stand in their way.”
As part of the hui, attendees are offered lunch, haircuts, foot spas and access to representatives from community agencies who can provide free advice about WINZ benefits, housing, setting up bank accounts and food services.