Families in urgent need of accommodation will have a safer place to stay in Wellington from next month.
The Salvation Army leases four Housing New Zealand houses in Wellington as emergency accommodation for families with children under 16. However, the houses were unavailable for seven months this year while Housing New Zealand completed urgent earthquake strengthening work and other repairs.
About 20 people attended a blessing this week where Housing New Zealand officially handed back the homes to the Army.
Emergency Housing coordinator Sieni Clarke works with the families, linking them with support to get on their feet again. Sieni told the guests at the blessing that when she first got the news the houses were unsafe she was afraid they might lose them entirely. So it was a huge relief when Housing New Zealand agreed to strengthen them and do other repairs on top.
‘Thank you Housing New Zealand for giving us a big surprise,’ she told the group.
Housing New Zealand project manager Pervin Contractor says it was a rewarding job and they wished future residents well.
‘We hope these families will enjoy the properties and that they’re not just going to be a roof over their heads, but a place they can call home.’
A former resident, Daniel, also spoke about how the emergency housing and support helped his family. When they arrivedfrom Nigeria, Daniel says his family were struggling, but the emergency accommodation and support from The Salvation Army and other agencies helped them get settled and he is now studying at university.
‘I want to thank God for the opportunity to meet these important people. When we came here life was difficult for us, but today that story is different; we’re a happy family here.’
Wellington Community Ministries Services manager Ollie Seumanufagai says they were very grateful to the Wellington City Council, which provided them three social housing units on a short term lease while the strengthening work was done. They’re also grateful to Housing New Zealand and the contractors for their work, which has the refurbished houses looking beautiful, he says.