Home, but street habits hard to break

20:54, Jul 25 2014
HOME, SWEET HOME: Mickey at his living room table, warm, safe and happy.

Former homeless man Mickey has a pillow on his new living room floor for sleeping.

After two years living rough on the streets of Christchurch, he has trouble sleeping in a bed. A bed is too soft - he's used to the floor.

Mickey this month featured in The Press investigation into homelessness in the quake-hit city.

He was "sick to his stomach" with living in a hole in an abandoned building.

Now, Mickey is off the streets. He moved into a city council flat this week after being on a waiting list for two years.

Picking up the keys was emotional. "It was a bit gut-wrenching actually - I was so happy to get the keys I nearly cried."


The flat has furniture and food, thanks to people donating to Amy Burke's Help for the Homeless Facebook page.

Mickey has a large support network around him.

"If it wasn't for all of them [Amy, volunteer workers and social workers] and [friend] Gabe and those off the street, I would feel quite isolated and alone. It's all going pretty well," he said.

Gabe said the "streetie" community would keep an eye on Mickey. His first meal - spicy meatballs, broccoli, carrots and rice - was made by a security guard who helped him on the streets.

But some habits are hard to break.

Too used to getting up at 5.30am to evade city workers, Mickey still wakes at the same time.

One night he could not sleep so headed back out to the familiar streets and wandered around until he felt better.

Instead of returning to a cold, damp concrete floor in Cashel St, Mickey went to his warm flat.

The Press