The People's Project is an initiative that launched a year ago. Its mission - to help 100 people into homes within its first two years, backed with $1.6m in government funding. Bay of Plenty Times reporter Jean Bell went to check in on how the service was tracking and to hear the story of a formerly homeless man's life who has been forever changed by the service.
One year down the track, The People's Project is seeking more housing to continue to support Tauranga's chronically homeless into housing and better their lives.
The project opened its Grey St office in June last year backed by $1.6 million in funding from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development for the first two years.
It operated under the Housing First model where clients were housed then given support services to work through other issues like addiction and mental health issues.
The goal was to house 100 chronically homeless people in the project's first two years.
Within 12 months, 256 people have already approached the service for help.
Of these, 39 people had successfully been put into houses after meeting the project's eligibility criteria. Some of these clients stay in emergency housing before moving into a home.
At the time of writing, 23 people were waiting for a home to become available to move into.
Tauranga service manager Simone Cuers called the project's first year a success given the difficult rental market.
"I'm really pleased - the winners here are the homeless people," Cuers said.
"The rental market is the only issue stopping us from housing all the people that we have."
Cuers said the project worked hard to gain credibility with property managers and landlords and was always searching for more suitable properties.
Clients sometimes lost tenancies for a number of reasons, such as when a property was sold. It was uncommon for client ill-behaviour to be the cause, she said.
The project sought private rentals, in addition to looking into social housing options.
Staff make weekly visits - sometimes more regularly - to the house to check up on the client and the property, she said.
The ultimate aim of the project was to reintegrate clients back into the community, reconnect them with family and explore employment opportunities if possible.
The service generally worked with single people, but Cuers did not rule out working with families in the future.
Cuers was pleased to see the recent Government budget had announced funding for new and existing Housing First projects, which included the project.
Cuers did not know what extra funding the project might receive but she understood it meant they could work with clients for longer.
First National property manager Genna Short has had three project clients as tenants who were a pleasure to work with, she said.
"The houses are impeccable and the people are lovely."
Short said the weekly check-ins from the service essentially meant there was a property inspection every week. She urged other landlords to consider renting their property for a client to live in.
Harry is chatty and jovial as he relaxes in an armchair in his lounge.
Harry, which is not his real name, has good reason to be upbeat and it's something that most people took for granted: a roof over his head. He has asked not to be identified.
This time last year Harry - in his 40s - was living in a tent in Mount Maunganui, just as he had done for the previous eight years.
"It's nice to have my own garden instead of sleeping in someone else's," he laughed.
Harry became homeless 14 years ago following his father's death.
He was working at the time but took time off after his father's passing. Harry ended up quitting and a downward spiral of drugs, alcohol and gangs followed.
For someone who feels as though they've lost some of their mana, there's no feeling like having some of that restored.
Harry battled poor health including pneumonia and frequent white tail spider bites while living on the streets.
Nine months ago, Harry moved into his house, thanks to support from The People's Project. The service also helped him get identification documents and a benefit.
Having a house to live in gave Harry a sorely missed sense of belonging.
"It helped restore some of my mana and dignity," he said.
While he initially had concerns about his newfound responsibilities, being accountable for paying the bills and running a household was a good incentive to not slide into bad habits, he said.
"You take charge of your own life - you carve your own path and you get that clarity back," he said.
Harry's main goal now was to continue working on his health, get a job and save some money.
He was grateful for the work The People's Project had given him and said the continued support was vital to his success.
"For someone who feels as though they've lost some of their mana, there's no feeling like having some of that restored."