Fifty nine people are moving off the Social Housing Register and into a brand new home, with the opening of a new Salvation Army housing complex Te Hononga Tāngata in Royal Oak, Auckland.
On Friday, November 8, the 50-unit apartment block will be officially opened by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Soon after, 59 tenants – some of whom have been on the Social Housing Register for up to five years – will move in.
Funded by The Salvation Army, a $4m Government grant and loans, Te Hononga Tāngata is designed to give people the security of a home, while also growing a community.
The Salvation Army National Director of Social Housing Greg Foster says the aim of the complex was to utilise the Mt Albert Road space in the best possible way to create a feeling of community.
The Salvation Army chose Mace project management group, Designgroup Stapleton Elliott as the architect and McMillan Lockwood Builders, and the finished concept includes spacious one and two-bedroom apartments, green spaces, a community garden, and “bump spaces” – areas where people will naturally meet each other.
“We wanted to utilise the space to the best of our ability, but also wanted space so people would become part of a community,” Mr Foster says.
A hall, including an office for a tenancy manager and chaplain, are also part of the complex. The Salvation Army will continue to offer a range of wraparound services for the tenants.
Mr Foster says the apartment block is close to transport, a shopping centre, “and some of the apartments have fantastic views over Auckland”.
“It’s the sort of place you’d be happy for your mother to live in,” he says.
The tenants will shortly begin moving into their homes – for many, the only home they’ve been able to rent.
The Salvation Army had more than 700 referrals for the unit – an indication of the huge demand for social housing in Auckland, and throughout Aotearoa.
Mr Foster says The Salvation Army is doing what it can to tackle this demand.
“Four years ago we were creating a lot of noise in the media about the housing crisis. To the credit of the Army, we decided to do something about it,” he says.
“The Salvation Army dug deep and made it happen.”
1. For Tania Shelford and Rana Graham, having a home of their own is an important step towards achieving their goals of fulltime employment.
With no jobs and no references the couple, who are on the unemployment benefit, were unable to find rental accommodation. Debt incurred from high-interest loans had given Tania a bad credit rating: also a mark against a prospective tenant.
The couple have previously lived on the streets of Auckland, a tough and demoralising experience.
“It really makes you feel down,” Tania says.
“You’ve got nowhere to go, no family to rely on; you really just have to be strong.”
From there, Tania and Rana were housed in emergency accommodation, and have been living in a motel unit.
They both volunteer with The Salvation Army in Royal Oak, and have been watching the apartment block going up next door with interest.
They attend church at The Salvation Army Massey, and it was there they heard they could apply to rent a unit in the new complex.
When Salvation Army Senior Tenancy Manager Jasmine Herewini called to say they had been successful, Tania says they were thrilled.
“We were really happy,” Tania says.
“Me and my partner have never had a place of our own. We see it as a chance to build for our future and we’re really grateful to The Salvation Army.”
That future includes getting jobs, with Rana soon to complete his truck driver licence training through The Salvation Army. Tania hopes to study, and work in hospitality.
Tania says they want to keep giving back, and will continue volunteering with The Salvation Army.
2. James Waldron says applying for private rental accommodation while on a sickness benefit is pretty much pointless.
His last rental was sold by the landlord and he found, with no job and no references, he wasn’t hearing back about any of the properties he applied for.
Now living back with his mum, James is looking forward to his move to Royal Oak in December.
A recovering addict, he says living in a substance-free environment with wraparound support available will help him move on to a better life.
“It will be good to be more settled,” James says.
“It will hopefully give me more confidence.”
Te Hononga Tāngata will be officially opened at 9.30am on Friday, November 8, 2019.
Media enquiries: The Salvation Army Territorial Media Officer | Email | Phone: 021 945 337
**Updated 07/11/2019 to include attendance of the Prime Minister