Tara Clarke moved house six times in 2011.
The 21-year-old was diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder in late 2010 and her life became a constant battle with self-harm, overdoses, hospital stays and visits from emergency services at all hours - not what other people wanted to live with.
"I was really, really ill and going in and out of hospital. There were police and ambulances every day," she says.
Ms Clarke went from house to house and even lived in a holiday camp before something happened that changed her life dramatically.
She was offered a place to stay in Albany by the Bays Community Housing Trust.
The trust offers affordable housing to people in need, particularly mental health patients.
Ms Clarke says moving in was the best decision she ever made.
"I'm so glad there's agencies like that and there needs to be more of them," she says.
After less than a year she was off all her medication.
She went through a recovery programme run by mental health organisation Equip and is now living in a flat in West Auckland and considering a move to Wellington.
Ms Clarke says without the trust she would have ended up in long-term psychiatric care or "the worst thing you don't even want to think about" would have happened.
The trust accepted its 100th tenant this month.
Property manager Neil Binnie says the trust has achieved huge things since it started in 2004.
"We had half a dozen people and no money, dreaming of a housing trust. It's a miracle really."
The trust has a portfolio of 30 North Shore properties.
It owns 18 of them and manages the other 12, which belong to Housing New Zealand and works with organisations like Equip and Connect Supporting Recovery.
Ms Clarke says Mr Binnie was the best landlord.
"It's just the little things, like when I moved in there was a card and a Christmas cake for me. He would always pop in and say ‘Hey, how are you doing?'."
The two factors key to her recovery were stability and a supportive landlord.
Ms Clarke is happy to tell her story because "someone needs to stand up and say ‘We need to be heard'."
She says mental health patients are "put into a box, a category" and people should be more aware and more understanding.
"We need stability, not to be going from place to place. Without that understanding from someone, it makes things worse."
Ms Clarke's challenge now is not her mental health but learning to live with others.
Having a supportive landlord has helped, but she says moving out has been hard.
"It's not the same as being on my own. I'm learning how to mix and mingle."
She recommends the housing trust to people facing the same situation.
"At the end of the day that's what's going to get you better. They gave me a second chance at getting my life straight."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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