A Catholic Monthly Magazine

De Paul House: a new chapter in our history

Keeping families togetherDe Paul House 1

Finding yourself homeless is probably something most of us can’t or don’t want to imagine. At de Paul House sadly it’s our daily business; we receive up to 10 calls per day from homeless families seeking accommodation. The people calling could be your brother, your sister or your son or daughter as they come from all walks of life. We are currently able to accommodate 9 families at any one time which equates to around 1 in 16 families who ask for accommodation. We also provide outreach services to around 170 families in the community.

We are delighted we can be there to help vulnerable families when they find themselves in desperate times. Our supporters make this possible. We also celebrate the Vincentian values which we believe still hold true today.
‘The good you do them will not end with their time here’ - St Vincent de Paul.
De Paul House was founded in 1986 and since that time we have been helping families stay together through their difficult times. Families like this one ….

‘Moving into de Paul House was one of the hardest hurdles I had to face up to in my life. I was unsettled, unsure, embarrassed that I let my life get to this situation and scared and unprepared for what this journey was all about. My husband and I had one son aged 18 months and he was very unsettled. As time went on it got better and the staff made me feel more comfortable. I have learnt about how to manage my money and where it goes, I am working towards a career and now know what I want from life. I have made amazing friends who will be with me in the long term. This experience moving here has changed my life for the better with support from staff. I know today where I am in life which has been so hard and so low but because of my experiences and the support of strong women I have learnt to stand tall and strong no matter the situation and face it head on.’
Affordability of housing is a national issue but is particularly serious in Auckland.

Rising house prices mean that private rentals are scarce and those that are available are too expensive and beyond the reach of our families which leave them limited options. Housing New Zealand, the only affordable option, have very few houses available and recent government policy to sell off these assets is making the situation worse.

When the families come to us they have usually been living in impossibly overcrowded or unsafe situations or in some of the worst cases in cold damp garages or cars. It is not unusual to have a family come to us having been sleeping in their car with small children. You probably find this shocking, after all this is New Zealand in 2013.
So what are we doing to help?

In the 27 years that have passed since we opened our doors we have housed over 740 families and our goals have remained the same. We strive to help families stay together through the hard times and prepare them to go on to achieve a future where they can sustain housing and live independently. This we achieve through temporary accommodation but also adult education such as literacy programmes, budgeting advice and training as well as providing childcare facilities. We believe that helping our families to learn the skills that will move them towards independence is the best way of achieving a sustainable future. We estimate that 91% of these families are sustaining housing 3 years later.

Each year we also support over 170 families living in the community. These families live in their own homes but often struggle with social isolation, meagre incomes and debt. We provide advocacy and help reduce the isolation by welcoming them to participate in our playgroup and classes (which are free). We also provide social work and counseling support if they need it. We work closely with local schools who assist generously by reduction in school fees and uniform costs. We engage with health agencies, Plunket, budgeting services and many others to ensure the families can access the services they need.

The buildings that de Paul House now occupy were originally a Catholic boarding college, St Dominic’s. Through the work of Bishop Denis Browne and parishioners of St Mary’s Parish Northcote the emergency housing and family support service opened its doors in April 1986.

Since that time there has been very little change to the buildings and we have struggled to accommodate the increased requests for our help. This year we have embarked on a redevelopment project that will give us a new learning centre, early childhood centre and more storage. Phase 2 will convert all our shared units into self-contained accommodation and also create two extra 3 bedroomed family units.

How can you help?

We rely heavily on the generosity of financial donations from our supporters to allow us to provide our services. Last year we generated 20% of our income through donations and fundraising alone and we ask that you consider making a donation to help our families.

You can donate via our website

Your support helps us foster hope, dignity and independence for our vulnerable families.

Thank You.
Catherine McClintock,  De Paul House

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