Jhordynn Morgan lost her job, lived in her car for three weeks and is now super grateful to taxpayers for giving her a roof over her head in emergency housing in a Rotorua motel.
The 26-year-old promises her situation is only temporary, she will find a job, get another rental and be back on her feet.
Morgan said it was hurtful some "scumbags" staying in the motels were giving all the homeless a bad name but she wanted to thank the system for giving her hope.
"I am honestly so grateful for the motels and for the owners allowing me to stay. I am so blessed I am out of my car and have somewhere to sleep."
Emergency housing clients have come under fire for the social problems being experienced as a result of motels in the city filling up with homeless people. The issues have been highlighted in recent articles in the Rotorua Daily Post.
Police say there has been a "huge" rise in crime in the Fenton St area and Glenholme residents spoken to by the Rotorua Daily Post say they now feel unsafe in their homes.
The Rotorua Daily Post has revealed more than $5 million was poured into emergency housing and special needs grants during the three months to the end of June - a rise from $3.85m in the quarter ending March.
The jump in the figure sparked Rotorua MP Todd McClay to call for another look at who was staying in the motels as the local figure far out-stripped other areas in the Bay of Plenty. He repeated earlier concerns the city was being used as a "dumping ground" for out-of-town homeless because Rotorua had more motels.
The Ministry of Social Development has said it does not move people from different areas for emergency housing and a majority of those in the motels were Rotorua locals.
Morgan, who is from Rotorua, lost her job at Skyline Rotorua as a gondola operator because her contract ended a few weeks before New Zealand went into alert level 4 in March.
Because of this, she wasn't entitled to the wage subsidy. Her landlord had also put up her rent to $250 a week and it became impossible to pay when she was on the Jobseekers' benefit and was only left with $270 a week after paying her debts.
She packed up her belongings and lived in her car for three weeks, having dinner at friends' houses and spending her days driving around the city. When it wasn't convenient to stay with friends, she slept in her car at the Rotorua Lakefront or parked up at reserves.
"It was a really shocking and scary time."
During the lockdown period, all the city's homeless were put into emergency accommodation and Morgan was given a motel.
However, she "hated" the motel because her room was between Mongrel Mob and Black Power members and she could feel the tension.
"I am transgender ... I'm a strong person but I was worried they wanted to bash me up. I was attacked in November last year and had my tooth knocked out for no reason and it was the most outrageous and crazy thing. With that trauma in the back of my mind, I just wanted to get out."
Morgan said she felt so ungrateful because she had been given a roof over her head, but she said she'd preferred to live in her car.
She remembered meeting some motel owners on Fenton St when she worked as a tour guide, so got in touch with them and asked if she could be transferred to their motel.
She said at the time, she was the only emergency housing client staying in the motel and she had now been there for more than two months.
She said she loved and respected the owners. While a few "bad apples" had since been and gone, there was currently a good element staying there of mainly families.
It was easier for her financially living in a motel as she was only contributing her accommodation supplement of $60 a week and the ministry was paying the rest - which she said came to a total of about $890 a week.
Despite that, she was still going to about 10 house viewings a week trying to get her own rental and she was desperate to work again.
"Personally I get a bit upset because I know that myself and a few people in this situation are legitimate. We aren't scumbags and it hurts a bit. If you've not been homeless before, you don't know what it's like. There are so many different people in different situations."
She said emergency housing should not be for gang members.
"I know they are entitled to housing but they are the problem in society at the moment and we are making it easier for them."
Meanwhile, Oppies Fish and Chips and Chinese Takeaways owner Michael Huang said his Fenton St business was experiencing the nice side of people caring for the homeless.
Yesterday morning one of his regulars ordered 13 fish and three scoops of chips but asked that three fish and one scoop be kept aside separate.
He said when she came to pay, she told him to keep the smaller meal and give it to the next person he thought could do with a free meal.
"Another woman then came in and asked me for a menu and I handed her the fish and chip and said 'welcome to Rotorua, here is something free for you'. In our community we have lots of people who have big hearts."