Just weeks ago, Damien Miers was couch-surfing at friends and was constantly moving from house to house – now he is living in one of Christchurch’s newest social housing developments and loving the stability it provides.
Damien and his partner, Joanne, moved into their new two-bedroom home in Barbadoes St, on the edge of the central city, last week and have already noticed the positive changes.
They are two of many new tenants at the site that saw seven older three-bedroom homes replaced by 17 new homes (13 one-bedroom and four two-bedroom units).
The development is built on 3 levels – a first for Christchurch – and features swipe card access and other security features.
The site is right on the central city boundary, is close to public transport, shops and other services.
Damien moved from Invercargill to Christchurch but struggled to find housing and found himself relying on the goodwill of friends who let him stay for brief periods.
Joanne came from Timaru and also found it difficult to find suitable housing.
The couple found some temporary respite when they spent several weeks living in emergency housing before Housing New Zealand called to offer them the new house.
Damien said he was overwhelmed and recalled his first reaction.
"Yay I thought, I’m finally going to get a roof over my head. It was just fantastic.’’
The new house is spacious, easy to heat and keep warm and they love the balcony too.
"It’s so handy to everything here, just a small walk to town, spacious and heaps of room. I just love it.’’
Damien’s five-year-old son visits regularly and has his own bedroom.
"It’s great. He loves his room. We’re very happy,’’ Damien says.
Another new tenant, Robert, said he was thrilled when he moved in last week.
"This is a palace.’’
Tenancy Manager Julie said she was pleased with how the new tenants were settling in and there was already a sense of community developing throughout.
A communal room has been created where tenants can gather and a variety of books, donated by Housing New Zealand staff, are provided for their reading pleasure.