Art of us­ing car as home may open doors

Weekend Herald - - News - Isaac Dav­i­son

Cen­tral city work­ers on their way to Christ­mas par­ties are set to get an eye-open­ing, first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence of home­less­ness.

The House of Cars in­stal­la­tion opened in Wyn­d­ham Quar­ter yes­ter­day. A ship­ping con­tainer cov­ered in 2000 car parts, its in­te­rior aims to give an im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence of what it is like to live in a car.

In­side the con­tainer is the in­te­rior of a ve­hi­cle with toys and chil­dren’s clothes stuffed into doors, makeshift cur­tains and a sound­track of a baby cry­ing, traf­fic noises, and rough sleep­ers telling their sto­ries.

Its cre­ators — com­mu­nity hous­ing group Life­wise and ad agency DDB — placed it in the heart of the busi­ness cen­tre to tar­get wealth­ier Auck­lan­ders and

There is a feel­ing . . . in cities like Auck­land that there will al­ways be peo­ple who are home­less. That’s also not true. Moira Lawler, Life­wise

com­pany di­rec­tors.

“Much of the foot traf­fic across the in­stal­la­tion pe­riod is ex­pected to be ex­ec­u­tives on their way to Christ­mas par­ties and it’s hoped the House of Cars will give them com­pelling food for thought,” Life­wise said.

It is part of a cam­paign to en­cour­age Auck­land land­lords to rent their homes to rough sleep­ers.

Life­wise, as part of Auck­land’s Hous­ing First col­lec­tive, has placed 792 home­less peo­ple in per­ma­nent homes since March last year — 90 per cent of them in pri­vate rentals.

“We get re­ally good sup­port from pri­vate land­lords,” said Life­wise chief ex­ec­u­tive Moira Lawler.

“You might be sur­prised by that, but it’s the best deal in town.

“They’re guar­an­teed 52 weeks’ rent, we’ll deal with any main­te­nance, and if some­thing goes wrong we’ll sort it.”

More land­lords are needed be­cause Life­wise aims to house an­other 100 home­less next year.

It hopes to sign up 60 land­lords by Christ­mas. Lawler said re­cruit­ing land­lords some­times meant break­ing down the stigma around home­less peo­ple.

“There is a myth that all home­less are older, al­co­holic men, which is by no means true. There is a re­ally per­va­sive myth that peo­ple choose to be home­less, which is also not true. “And there is in­creas­ingly a feel­ing, or a norm, in cities like Auck­land that there will al­ways be peo­ple who are home­less. That’s also not true — there are cities that have dealt with the is­sue quite ef­fec­tively.”

Ja­nine McCormick, oper­a­tions man­ager at LJ Hooker’s Pon­sonby branch, has housed nine rough sleep­ers. It had been a pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence, with only mi­nor is­sues, which came with many ten­ants.

“They’ve not been in a house for a long time. And when they’re in a hous­ing com­plex, they don’t re­alise that hav­ing the mu­sic on at 1am in the morn­ing [isn’t] nec­es­sar­ily a great idea.

“But . . . see­ing these peo­ple de­velop from when they first get in — they’re gen­uinely very happy and very thank­ful to get a home.”

Photo / Isaac Dav­i­son

House of Cars, open now at Wyn­d­ham Quar­ter, en­cour­ages land­lords to house rough sleep­ers. The con­fronting home­less in­stal­la­tion

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