Habitat for Humanity partner with motivated women year-round to improve their access to safe and secure housing in New Zealand. For single mums Chrissi-Rae and Amy, Habitat Central’s Ready to Rent course provided the support, information, and empowerment they needed to move from transitional or emergency housing to long-term stable homes for their family.
Chrissi-Rae had given up on finding a place to call home for her and her young baby. She’d been living in emergency accommodation for six months after leaving a violent domestic situation.
“Honestly, I had lost hope… It does get draining, especially when you show up to all these house viewings, and it can be a long time,” Chrissi-Rae said.
The same was true for pregnant mum of five, Amy, who ended up in a motel after a relationship separation and a frustrating search for a suitable house for her family.
The two-day Ready to Rent workshop, held by Habitat for Humanity Central Region in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development, supported Chrissi-Rae and Amy to increase their knowledge of tenancy law, landlord communication, basic maintenance, personal finance, and rental opportunities. These new skills can then be proactively applied to their assisted search for secure housing.
“I embraced every moment – every moment that I got to spend time with people who were in certain areas of work. I had looked at the certificate I was going to get, and I just wanted to know what it was going to get me,” Amy said.
Through the course, Amy also gained a stronger relationship with MSD housing brokers and secured a private rental. She went into the tenancy agreement with her eyes wide open to any pitfalls and knowing her rights because of what she learned through the Habitat course.
“I literally got the tenancy agreement out of the folder that I got from Habitat and lined it up with the tenancy agreement that I got from the agent.”
Finding some crucial information missing – and some that had been added after she’d signed it – Amy was able to have this corrected.
Chrissi-Rae says the course was great, and she took away the advice that being upfront and honest is often the best policy when trying to secure a house. She was offered the two-bedroom house she now calls home after booking a viewing and running into a property manager she’d met through the Ready to Rent course.
Moving into her new house felt amazing and has made a big difference for Chrissi-Rae and her baby.
“This is the best feeling ever… saying ‘I’m going back to a motel’ sucked. Now my son finally has his own room. It’s just cool.”
Amy says, “It’s been a real cool journey”.
Through her own determination, with the help of her church and support from other organisations, Amy is well on her feet, committed to personal growth and with a passion for helping others. In her rare spare time, she is involved with community and church groups that support women, and also enjoys sewing. She contributes consistently to KiwiSaver with a goal of home ownership, saying: “I’m holding to that even though I’m on a benefit.”
“I see the positives in everything, I know I have to. I have big faith, because it proves every time it gets you big blessings.”