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Emergency housing organised for homeless in Hawke’s Bay during pandemic

A small network of East Coast agencies has completed six months’ worth of work in a week, quickly finding housing for 46 homeless people with a range of needs.

As part of a collaborative Covid-19 response by Housing First, the Ministry of Social Development and local councils, emergency accommodation has been co-ordinated for the region’s homeless.

Housing First Hawke’s Bay Manager Kelly Richards describes the process of matching accommodation options with clients as “speed dating for housing”.

“The clients we’re working with have a range of personal and mental health issues, but they are well cared for across a number of agencies by support staff, security, police checks, health checks, clothing and food supplies.

“The people we’re helping are so appreciative of a warm, dry room and even a television. For some people, simple extra services such as wi-fi and a telephone are such a luxury.

“We’ve found accommodation for these guys, girls and couples in the ridiculously short space of a week. In terms of volume, this level of administration and support is what our agencies would normally do over a six-month period,” she said.

Richards said the people are mostly respecting the pandemic guidelines and keeping in their bubbles.

Homeless Action team member Wilma Hawkins, whose usual role is with the Ministry of Social Development but has been considered as part of the Hawke’s Bay region’s Civil Defence network for the past four weeks, said what they have been able to achieve in a short period of time is amazing.

“The non-government agencies we work with have good relationships with Government anyway, so the solutions came together quickly once we got all the partners talking. What we’ve been able to achieve over such a short time is amazing,” she said.

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board Clinical Team Leader Julie Oliver-Bell has been co-ordinating connections between non-government agencies and services provided by the DHB.

“Working across groups such as Whatever It Takes, Emerge, Mash, CentreCare, MedRun Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga and Kahungunu Exec in Wairoa, we have developed even stronger relationships, focused on getting people housed quickly.

“Even when we’ve had some really at-risk people, our contacts have been able to open up doors,” she said.


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