The view along a kitchen to a large window in a studio apartment at HomeGround, Auckland City Mission

Monday 6 March 2023

Living at HomeGround – Shane’s story

Shane, 55, was one of the first tenants to move into HomeGround. Several months on, he reflects on what having a home means for him.

“I’ve never lived anywhere like this; I’ve always been poor. Growing up we had holes in the walls, and we didn’t have a car or anything much. If I could pick my dream home, it would be this one so I can’t believe I’m here.

“I’m just so grateful to be given a flat here. And I’m so proud of my flat, it’s beautiful. I’ve got my own shower and brand-new appliances.”

Before HomeGround, Shane was living in a central city backpackers’ hostel. It wasn’t in a good condition and didn’t feel like a safe or secure place to be. Once lockdown restrictions lifted, Shane headed straight to the Mission and applied for a HomeGround apartment. During the screening process, he was invited in for a chat.

“When they called me in, I thought they were going to tell me I didn’t get in. But they said, ‘Hey Shane, come up and see your new apartment!’ and I was like “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat??!!! I rang my brother and showed him around using my phone. And he’s going, ‘Wow!’

“I am so happy, and so honoured to be here. You couldn’t find anyone here who is happier than me, you couldn’t find anyone more grateful.”

With 24-hour security at HomeGround, Shane feels much safer than he did at the backpackers. “If you’ve got any problems, you just ring security and they sort it out. It means I can get on with my life.”

Another benefit of living at HomeGround is the community. Growing up, Shane says he thought about joining a gang so that he could feel part of something. Now, he says “Living here, I feel like I belong. All the courses and events bring us together and we look out for each other. At the backpackers’ I was alone, but here it’s like having whānau.”

It is the role of Sam, Community Development Lead, to help foster a sense of belonging amongst tenants and organise life-enriching activities for them to participate in.

“Sam is one of my favourites because he runs courses,” says Shane. “When Sam organised a computer course, I went along because I’m not very flash on the computer and they helped me update my C.V. Then Sam helped me to get a job.

“A week before Christmas I got the call to say I got the job and I said, ‘Sister, this is the best Christmas present ever.’ It’s just a cleaning job, but I see it as a stepping stone.

“Sam also organised a reading group on Fridays to talk about books. They’ll read a chapter and stop, and we’ll have a bit of a kōrero about the story and we relate it to ourselves. Sometimes we end up talking more about ourselves than the books, and it’s so much fun.”

Now, Shane is firmly looking to the future. “My dream job would be to work here at HomeGround. These people are helping Auckland, not just here but all around the district and they are awesome people, selfless people, who are just trying to help. That’s what I want to do, I want to give back.

“I’m 55 and I’m reinventing myself.”

To learn more about our pathways to housing, click here.