Holiday park last resort for homeless families

22:54, Aug 05 2014
Harcourt Holiday Park
HOME OF SORTS: Harcourt Holiday Park host Kathy Giles said families regularly came to the park looking for an affordable, short- term place to stay.

A holiday park has become the last port of call for families trying to avoid homelessness in Upper Hutt.

In the absence of other emergency accommodation providers in the city, Work and Income is footing the bill for struggling families to stay at Harcourt Holiday Park.

Host Kathy Giles said families regularly came to the park looking for an affordable, short-term place to stay.

"We take them in because they don't have anywhere else to go."

She said a shortage of accommodation in Upper Hutt and poor credit ratings made it hard for families to secure a flat.

One family had stayed, on and off, for two years before they moved to a Housing New Zealand property. Most families stayed for several weeks.

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Giles said she had cooked meals for families and one man had offered to do chores for food.

"People come in here and they've got absolutely nothing.

"We send them to the Sallies to get blankets."

Judy Dixon, of the St Joseph's Social Justice Group, said the park was one of the few options for families without a place to stay in Upper Hutt.

"When there is a sudden need for accommodation there is no emergency housing available."

"I don't know what people would do if [the holiday park] wasn't there - for a family to try and sleep in a car would be horrific."

Ministry of Social Development records for June show 13 people in Upper Hutt were "at risk" with a severe and persistent housing need.

Work and Income spokeswoman Louise Waaka confirmed Work and Income had provided "temporary assistance" for people to stay at Harcourt Holiday Park. The number who had received grants was not immediately available.

Waaka said there was a range of Work and Income help on offer for people assessed as having an emergency housing need.

While Upper Hutt families without a place to stay are checking into a holiday park, single Hutt Valley men are travelling to Wellington for a roof over their heads. Wellington Night Shelter manager Mike Leon said there were five Hutt Valley men, including men from Upper Hutt, among clients the shelter had accommodated in the past month.

People from the Hutt Valley who travelled to the shelter were often sleeping rough on the Petone foreshore or the Hutt river bank.

Leon said people who became homeless had often experienced several "life shocks" in quick succession - such as losing a job or a relationship breakdown. He said homelessness included people sleeping in cars and overcrowded situations. "Homelessness is much broader than just rough sleepers."

Upper Hutt Leader