Whangarei housing trust funding hits crisis point

By Abi Thomas

A roof over their heads will be harder to come by for hundreds of struggling Whangarei residents if a local trust doesn't get the funding it needs.

The Tai Tokerau Emergency Housing Trust (TTEHT) fears it will have to shut up shop if it doesn't get $15,000 urgently, and about $40,000 before the end of the year.

Chairperson Adrian Whale said the trust is the landlord of last resort in Whangarei. "If we are forced to close, my fear is that we will see a dramatic increase in the number of children and young people finding temporary shelter in cars, garages and couch-surfing in Whangarei," he said.

The TTEHT was established in 2006 and offers emergency, temporary accommodation for about 33 people at one time, in houses or motel rooms around Whangarei. In 2012, the trust accommodated 206 people, 82 of them children. Clients include women and children, people who have lost their jobs, and single men released from prison.

A typical stay in emergency housing is between six to eight weeks, during which time the TTEHT helps with budgeting and transitions to other accommodation.

Mr Whale said a change in the grants system this year from the Ministry of Social Development has meant the TTEHT has fallen through the cracks, and missed out.

"Our demand's increasing but our ability to offer the services we do is decreasing," he said.

He suspected many community groups were finding themselves in a similar financial crisis.

The Women's Refuge says the TTEHT accommodation is an essential transition from a refuge safe-house for many of their clients. Jodie Findlay-Harris at Tryphina House said if emergency housing wasn't available, many of their clients would have nowhere to go, particularly women with children who can't stay in the (refuge) safe house for any length of time.

Ms Findlay-Harris said the trust's staff worked hard. "I've seen on a number of occasions the workers go over and above, to give them all the advice and support they need ... they do an enormous job."

She said most people probably don't know about the trust, and hopefully will never know about it - but it was essential for those who needed it.

- Northern Advocate

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