Bays Community Housing Trust

"Affordable Housing For All"




Flatting – a new beginning


They've known each other for fewer than six months, but the residents of Sunrise House already think of themselves as sisters. Helene, Kay and Edith are the first tenants of a flat for seniors in Northcote.

The Bays Community Housing Trust (BCHT) looks after the five-bedroom house in Tonar St for single women over 65 who do not own their own property and have limited assets.
It was officially opened in February with the first of the women moving in a month later. The residents, who wanted to be known just by their first names, range in age from 65 to 85 and a fifth flatmate is on the way.

They have chosen to name the house Putanga Mai (Sunrise House) to represent a new beginning. Helene moved in after separating from her husband. She could not afford to stay in their house or find another rental on the pension. "I looked and looked and looked and got very desperate. What I could afford I wouldn't put my dog in." Helene saw the flatting project advertised in the North Shore Times and says it was a "message from heaven". For Edith, the house offered a chance to live independently again.

"It was something I'd been hoping for, wishing for. I didn't want to live alone."

She also saw the project in the North Shore Times and says it leapt out at her.

Kay has been on her own for 10 years and was delighted to find out about the project. She says the residents are all young at heart."As you get older you start to dwindle, but not here."

The residents have monthly meetings with BCHT's Robyn Barry to make sure everything is running smoothly. Barry, a social worker, is studying the project as part of her PhD. She says it is working very, very well. "They're amazing women, I love going there. It feels such a privilege to be part of their lives." BCHT is building a second, similar house next door to Sunrise House which will be offered to single men and women over 65.

Helene says her new home is perfect. "It answers a lot of things, I want to be independent but not alone. It brings security and friendship. We are like sisters I think." BCHT provides affordable housing on the North Shore for people in social or economic need, particularly mental health patients. It owns 18 properties and manages 12 which belong to Housing New Zealand.

The second house is due to open on August 31. Rent will be about $220 a week including power, water, phone and internet.
Call Robyn Barry on 020 4008 8754 or email relationshipmanager@ for more information.



Crucial Turning Point After Mental Illness                      NSTA 20/8/2013


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."



Abeo House changes lives 

TEAM EFFORT: Bays Community Housing Trust’s Neil Binnie and Abeo House team leader Scott MacNevin.

Abeo is a Latin word for change, transformation or metamorphosis.

Abeo House has been running on the North Shore for almost two years, helping people with mental health issues make their own transformations. It homes eight people while they take part in 12 to 18-month programmes run by Connect Supporting Recovery.

Residential services manager Aaron Carey says it is hard to quantify their success, but they have had one tenant come back to run a course for other residents.

"We've had a lot of positive feedback from people who have lived here and moved on."

Abeo House was a joint effort by the Bays Community Housing Trust and Connect Supporting Recovery.

The trust built the houses and now acts as a landlord.

Property manager Neil Binnie says the location of Abeo House is fabulous because it is in the community but isolated from it. Mr Carey says most of Abeo's tenants are from the hospital."They come from environments where they don't exercise a lot of choice."

The recovery programmes teach independence and life skills such as cooking and shopping.

Abeo House team leader Scott MacNevin says it is about getting people a life of their choosing.

"That's the goal. We really want to reduce the involvement of mental health services."

The Bays Community Housing Trust aims to provide affordable housing on the North Shore for people in social or economic need, particularly those who have experienced mental illness.

Mr Binnie says it is wonderful to see Abeo House being used so well.

"It took a long time to get it all finished off but it's worth it. I love coming here."