Martha from Habitat for Humanity Northern Region has been working on Waiheke Island, improving the places we call home since 2019.
“There is a housing crisis here as with the rest of the country. People have to move off the island because rental properties are hard to come by or end up living in substandard conditions, such as batches, sleepouts, or caravans, and even houseboats that were never meant for long-term living. This can result in negative health outcomes such as respiratory illness, asthma, and skin conditions,” Martha said.
Anthony has been living on Waiheke Island for the past 30 years. He described the winter months as particularly cold and damp. “You get the coastal wind coming off the sea. It’s only a summer place for most people but there is another side to Waiheke. I was partial to getting the flu quite a lot at the time. You just learn to live with it,” said Anthony.
Through Habitat’s Healthy Homes Programme, Anthony received double-lined full-length curtains and an energy-efficient heater for his home. “This house has never had insulation so we did what we could. Martha has taught me how to keep the heat in. It means a lot to me. I had been freezing in winter, so it is nice to have some curtains and a heater. It is different for me now.”
The impacts go much further than just the physical. Martha said, “A lot of people talk about their mental health and well-being really improving after they receive the service. Somebody described that when they see their curtains going up, it’s like having a warm hug because they just feel cared for.”
“I recently met with someone living in a house truck. It was extremely cold over the winter. We were able to provide them with a pack including blankets, a heater, and other items designed to keep the warmth in along with double-lined curtains. Already they are saying how happy they are and how much it’s changed their lives.”
“For anybody who is thinking about contacting the Healthy Homes team, I would say just go for it. Give me a call, it’s a confidential service. I know how important that is in a small community. We can talk about your needs and it’s all on a case-by-case basis,” said Martha.
Habitat’s Healthy Homes Programme aims to address preventable health issues for those living in cold, damp homes. This programme aims to assist people to warm up and dry out their homes.