Ruth is the human interest reporter and a photographer for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Struggling families have a place to call their own

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Mihi Dahm thought she was going to have to move her five children into a tent until Whare Tauranga stepped in to help.

Things are now looking up for the family who move into a Housing New Zealand rental of their own today.

The Tauranga mother of five had been renting in Gate Pa for two and a half years when the house she was living in was sold.

When Ms Dahm got the 90-day notice she applied for other houses and assistance but nothing was offered to her and she faced homelessness before being offered a spot at Whare Tauranga.

"My house got sold and we had nowhere to go," she told the Bay of Plenty Times.

"There was nothing available, there was no emergency housing available either.

"I was stressed, worried and depressed. I was about to cry. I almost had to go across the road and pitch a tent in a field."

It was then that Whare Tauranga stepped in and offered her and children, aged between 14-years-old and 17 months, a spot in their CBD home.

The Whare 4 Whanau Project, or Whare Tauranga - A Place to Call Home - was set up in June to accommodate homeless families in the Tauranga region for a short time.

The venture between Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services and Merivale Community Centre has already had four families through its doors, including 19 children, since they opened.

The building, just off The Strand, was donated by Tauranga Moana Trust and was rent free for a year.

Those living in the house took part in different programmes including cooking, financial management, household management, weaving and card making.

Ms Dahm had been living in the residence at the bottom of Tauranga's CBD for the past three months.

Today she and her children move into their own Housing New Zealand rental.

Ms Dahm said staying at Whare Tauranga had been a godsend

"I am so thankful of the people here, they are my saviours. I came in a very sad person, I am happy now."

Ms Dahm had participated in the programmes offered by the trust, and especially loved the weaving.

"It's like therapy, it's so therapeutic."

Mihi Dahm, 30s, and Lucy Pearson, 30, both stayed in Whare Tauranga and now have both move into their own rentals. Photo/George Novak
Mihi Dahm, 30s, and Lucy Pearson, 30, both stayed in Whare Tauranga and now have both move into their own rentals. Photo/George Novak

Executive director Tommy Wilson said he was relieved they had been able to provide 19 children with warm beds and a roof over their heads during the winter period.

"We all have a part to play."

Mr Wilson was thankful for those across the Tauranga community who had helped in different aspects of making Whare Tauranga run.

"The key to solving the homeless issue is the community. Common-unity. You can throw all the funding, food parcels and motels you want - it's not going to change them unless you get community engagement and give these people a sense of purpose.

"Everybody is telling them what they can't do, we need to tell them what they can."

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