20 Jun 2016

Second-generation homeless seek help

4:56 pm on 20 June 2016

Emergency housing provider DePaul House says it has saved a baby from being born "third-generation homeless" after its mother came to it for help.

Sign and outside of complex

DePaul House, on Auckland's North Shore, offers emergency housing to families. Photo: ( RNZ / Lauren Baker )

The service, on Auckland's North Shore, said the number of people asking for accommodation had nearly doubled from last year.

Manager Jan Rutledge said one young woman, who was seven months pregnant, had been squatting in a derelict house with no electricity.

The baby would have been born in the house if its mother had not been referred to DePaul House by another emergency housing provider, she said.

"It would have been, if they hadn't presented to us and had some great wraparound support offered, not just from us but from another provider who referred them through to us.

"We have every expectation that we will be able to house this young family but it is concerning that she's come through to seven months pregnant without any kind of antenatal care."

DePaul House received a lot of referrals from hospital social workers trying to find homes for pregnant mothers or young vulnerable parents, Ms Rutledge said.

"The situation is harder, it's harder to navigate your way through the confusing and in some instances punitive systems that are in place for social housing, especially if you are transient and you are looking for the next place to live, trying to make regular phone calls, keep in touch with the Ministry of Social Development.

"So trying to find a way through a changing system is making it more difficult."

Ms Rutledge said she was seeing more people who were second-generation homeless.

"This is particularly concerning for the young people coming through. If you've had Mum and Dad living in that situation, this is your day-to-day reality.

"I don't this is a New Zealand that most New Zealanders have any experience of, and certainly would not want recognised as New Zealand. I do believe we are better than that."

The problem with homelessness was Auckland-wide, not just in south Auckland, she said.

DePaul House has housed 850 families since it set up 30 years ago.

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