Te Whare Oki Oki: A Community Services Project
One of the projects being led by the Community Services Committee (CSC) of RCW has been called Te Whare oki oki. The purpose is to help homeless people with high and complex needs, such as mental health and alcohol and drug addictions, into secure housing where they can be given support to deal with those issues. Karen Coutts has explained that the name Te Whare oki oki is the sacred gift of Kaumatua Sam Jackson. The translation means “place of rest and recuperation”.
The CSC has worked with Wellington City Council and Housing New Zealand to offer support of the Club for development of a Te Whare oki oki facility in Wellington. This project has now developed to the stage of inclusion of a ‘housing first’ initiative for 20 people within a Housing NZ redevelopment in Rolleston St, Mt Cook. The project involves demolition of existing Housing NZ flats and construction of 90 new housing units, including 20 ‘housing first’ units for homeless people.
Community Services Committee Chair Susan Satyanand and members Roger Blakeley and Jane McCann attended a meeting of the Mt Cook Mobilised Residents’ Association on Sunday 16 September, where the Rolleston Street Development and ‘housing first’ initiative was presented by Housing NZ (see illustration above) and discussed with community members. Housing NZ explained that there has been a change of approach from earlier proposals such that the 20 ‘housing first’ units will be ‘independent living’ units, spread amongst the other units, rather than concentrated together with one central kitchen They said this reflected current thinking in Government that ‘housing first’ tenants benefit from living in a mixed tenancy. They said that this meant that tenants at the high end of complex needs would not be housed at the Rolleston Development, but could be housed at other HNZ developments such as the Arlington redevelopment. Representatives of Ministry of Social Development said that one of a group of five provider organisations would be providing a 24/7 presence on site to support the 20 ‘housing first’ tenants.
The Club through CSC has already fulfilled a valuable role in working together with the government agencies, Council and the community to promote understanding and support of the ‘housing first” proposal at Rolleston St, and will continue to explore opportunities for the Club to encourage this innovative initiative to support homeless people with particular needs in Wellington.
For further information, or to get involved. Contact Roger Blakeley.