The institution of the board­ing house


There is a well-known say­ing that an English­man’s home is his cas­tle. It is slightly dif­fer­ent for us Welsh peo­ple.

It was de­creed in the 12th cen­tury by an English king that ‘‘Welsh­men shall not have cas­tles’’. Since then Welsh­men have been adamant that they will have cas­tles.

Hav­ing been man­ager of the Hamil­ton Chris­tian Night­shel­ter Trust for the last seven years I have wit­nessed home­less­ness on the coal face. The peo­ple I have met who en­ter the shel­ters have as­tounded me by their abil­ity to sur­vive some of the hor­rific events that have occurred in their lives.

I was asked the other day by a lo­cal busi­ness man what I would do to solve the home­less­ness prob­lem here in Hamil­ton.

What I do know is that many of the men and women who ar­rive at the shel­ter re­quire on­go­ing sup­port to re­tain ac­com­mo­da­tion and they re­quire ac­com­mo­da­tion that is af­ford­able and suit­able.

Many read­ers would re­mem­ber the board­ing houses that used to ex­ist in Hamil­ton prior to their clo­sure in the late 1990s.

St Vin­cent de Paul had a fourbed hos­tel in Frank­ton and this closed in 1994 due to be­ing un­safe.

Post Of­fice apart­ments ac­com­mo­dated 10 peo­ple and this was sold in 1998 for the casino to be built. Grand Ho­tel (Loaded Hog) ac­com­mo­dated 20 peo­ple and this closed in 1996 when it was sold.

Em­pire Ho­tel ac­com­mo­dated 20 peo­ple and this closed in 1995 when it burned down. Riverview ac­com­mo­dated 20 peo­ple and this closed in 1997 when it was de­mol­ished. An­chor­age ac­com­mo­dated 24 peo­ple and this closed in 1998 when it was clas­si­fied as un­safe.

All th­ese op­tions were avail­able for those who were on a tight bud­get, or were tran­sient by na­ture or were grap­pling with their men­tal well­be­ing.

The own­ers of some of th­ese board­ing houses kept the res­i­dents in line and made sure they paid their rent, the res­i­dents had com­pany from oth­ers and could also re­treat to their rooms to seek time alone.

At the same time dur­ing the 1990s we also had the ‘‘Com­mu­nity Care’’ model where those in in­sti­tu­tions were sent on their way with some sup­port which has over the years slowly slipped away.

Many peo­ple who come to the shel­ters have men­tal health is­sues and re­quire sup­port in be­tween episodes of well­ness; they re­quire sup­port to re­main on med­i­ca­tion and most of all they re­quire some­where to live and the com­pany of oth­ers.

So to get back to the businessman’s ques­tion. I would re-in­vent the institution of the board­ing house, I would make them into safe places for the guests.

I would ask that funded or­gan­i­sa­tions which pro­vide so­cial hous­ing and ben­e­fits for those who are liv­ing with men­tal health is­sues or find­ing it dif­fi­cult to re­tain ac­com­mo­da­tion stop spend­ing money on tem­po­rary fixes and plan long term for sin­gle peo­ple who find it dif­fi­cult to sur­vive.

Not all in­di­vid­u­als fit into the neo-lib­er­al­is­tic ide­ol­ogy that main­tains that in­di­vid­u­als can look af­ter them­selves. HAVE YOUR SAY Email news and views to steve.ed­wards@ fair­fax­me­

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.