De Paul House in Auckland has received international recognition for a housing project at Warkworth, undertaken to accommodate families living in substandard and overcrowded conditions.

The Catholic agency manages 10 houses at Warkworth, mostly housing families from the Kiribati islands who have migrated to New Zealand and work in horticulture.

Many had been living in poor accommodation, lacking insulation and basic amenities.

The initiative has been accepted by the global Famvin Homeless Alliance as part of its 13 Houses Campaign intended to change the lives of 10,000 people around the world.

The alliance is a Vincentian Family initiative and its housing campaign was inspired by the 13 houses built by St Vincent de Paul in 1643 to accommodate abandoned children in Paris.

The alliance’s campaign coordinator, Natalie Monteza, said “De Paul House’s 33-year-old track record in Auckland is a powerful testimony, embracing the alliance’s vision ‘that everyone has a place to call home and a stake in their community’. With projects in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa, this is now our first in Oceania.”

De Paul House has been providing emergency accommodation for homeless families since 1986.

It was established by the Daughters of Charity who set up housing in the disused buildings previously used by St Dominic’s College for girls at Northcote.

Classrooms were transformed into self-contained accommodation units by volunteers from the St Vincent de Paul Society in St Mary’s parish.

Today De Paul House has 12 units on its site at Onewa Road, Northcote. Over the past two years it has expanded its housing to include 33 houses and units able to accommodate up to 40 families.

In its 33 years the agency has housed over 3500 homeless families and helped them into affordable homes.

“When the offer to manage the ten houses [at Warkworth] came, we were impressed with the quality of the brand-new houses,” said the general manager of De Paul House, Jan Rutledge. “Two are older cottages but eight
are 4-6 bedroom new homes.”

She said De Paul House was fortunate in having a large team of volunteers who support its work by sorting donated goods, helping at its early childhood centre and learning centre and doing ground maintenance.

“The ethos laid down by St Vincent de Paul is very much alive and operates daily at De Paul House. Together with the Daughters of Charity, we are extremely proud to be acknowledged under the 13 Houses Campaign, especially as it is an international call to action.”