Hamilton mum Chrissi-Rae was jumping with joy when she found out she’d secured a rental property for her and her then five-month-old baby.
She’d been living in emergency housing for six months, after leaving a domestic violence situation, and had lost hope of finding a place to call home.
While in emergency housing, Chrissi-Rae attended Habitat for Humanity Central Region’s Ready to Rent course, a two-day workshop for people living in emergency or transitional housing, or who are having difficulty securing a rental. Delivered in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development, the workshop aims to increase participants’ knowledge of tenancy law, managing money, maintaining a healthy home, interviewing skills, and interacting with their landlord.
“The course was great,” says Chrissi-Rae. “The first day was a bit overwhelming because you don’t know what to expect, and just being around people you don’t know – but it was cool.”
She took away the advice that being upfront and honest is often the best policy when trying to secure a house.
“Even if your past is not the best, or not something you want to be honest about – just be honest,” she says.
Following this advice has worked out well for Chrissi-Rae, who booked a viewing and came across a property manager she’d met through the Ready to Rent course. He gave her an opportunity to rent again, helping her into the two-bedroom house that is now her home.
She says having a place to call home feels amazing.
“Honestly, I had lost hope. This is the best feeling ever – especially when you’ve gone from having a house to ending up in emergency accommodation.”
Moving in has made a big difference for Chrissi-Rae and her baby. She says she feels much more settled now and can get their lives back on track. Leaving work and knowing she’s going home to her house is a great feeling.
“Saying ‘I’m going back to a motel’ sucked. Now my son finally has his own room. It’s just cool.”
Habitat for Humanity Central Chief Executive Nic Greene says the Ready to Rent course has good outcomes for attendees, with 40 per cent going on to secure a private rental.
“There are articles about the emergency housing situation in the news on an almost weekly basis,” says Nic.
“It’s a massive issue, and one without a single solution. By empowering people with information and knowledge, we aim to support them to find housing solutions that better meet their needs.”
Nic explains that the certificate presented to attendees on completion of the course is intended to act as an endorsement for landlords.
“The certificate demonstrates that the potential tenants have had the opportunity to learn about basic maintenance, personal finance, landlord communication, and more.”
Chrissi-Rae’s advice for people currently looking for a rental property is to just keep trying.
“It does get draining, especially when you show up to all these house viewings, and it can be a long time. But you’ve just got to keep going – don’t give up.”