The completely refurbished James Liston Hostel on Howe St, Freemans Bay, accommodating up to 55 homeless people, staff & volunteers, reopened on Monday.
Inner-city churches & social service agencies opened the hostel for working men in 1968 and it became Auckland’s largest emergency housing hostel, but gradually declined to a state of serious disrepair.
Auckland Council provided a $2 million grant in 2016 following recognition by the council’s City Centre Advisory Board of its vital role, Housing NZ added $1.7 million and the hostel trust had to raise about $1.3 million more to complete the refurbishment.
Trust chair Dame Diane Robertson, who’d headed the Auckland City Mission for 22 years, set up a team to lead the project.
She said that, as well as offering a housing solution, the hostel was a central network hub for community services provided by the many social services agencies that work with the homeless population in inner-city Auckland.
The result of the refurbishment was that a dilapidated old building had been transformed into a modern and fit-for-purpose facility.
Dame Diane said: “The primary goal of the hostel is to find long-term accommodation that is safe, affordable & sustainable. This refurbishment means we can achieve this and support our ethos of giving people who have the least, the best. It is gratifying to see the continuation of a 50-year commitment of social services working together in the inner city.
“The new facility offers a better distribution of rooms & amenities, safer areas for clients & staff, dedicated communal areas & a learning centre for residents. The newly painted, bright interiors & unique touches in each room will give them a sense of ownership and help them transition in to permanent homes.”
The hostel now has a dedicated women’s wing, with swipe cards for rooms, toilets & showers, and staff can easily monitor the shared common spaces: “People are taking care to clean their rooms, make their beds and put up photos of loved ones. The maximum stay for residents is 12 weeks, with an expectation that permanent housing be provided as soon as possible. We hope this transformed facility will give residents a sense of ownership & pride.”
But Dame Diane said the new challenge would be to continue to generate funding to run the facility so it can provide & expand relevant services for people in need.
Attribution: Hostel trust release.