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Campervan fleet sent to Northland to help ease homelessness amid lockdown

A fleet of campervans has been sent to Northland to help ease homelessness during the Covid-19 lockdown.

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More than 60 mobile homes are now providing warm shelter that's a step up for many families but it's not a permanent solution. Source: 1 NEWS

One family to benefit is Tisha Noa, Billy and their two children, who had stayed in a derelict caravan for around four months after Billy had a stroke.

“I got cold when it was dripping because the roof was dripping on my bed,” their 12-year-old daughter, Peti, said.

Billy described the experience as “cold, wet, miserable”, with Ms Noa adding that there had been no heating or water.

“It was more of a worry for Billy’s health,” she explained.

The family of four are now living in a mobile home, which Billy described as "beautiful".

“I love the people that have given it to us,” he said.

The campervan is one of 64 sent to Northland in a Government-funded iwi initiative to house the homeless during and after the lockdown.

Te Runanga o Whaingaroa's Mariameno Kapi-Kingi says the strong demand for housing shows a "desperate need" and how whānau and families are “doing it in the worst way”.

“It's something we needed to respond to now and that's what we're doing with the mobile homes,” Ms Kapi-Kingi said.

The campervans the families are staying in are situated on Māori land, with families allowed to stay in the campervans for three months.

Associate Housing Minister Nanaia Mahuta said the “real solution” for people in insecure housing going forward, however, “isn't in motels nor campervans, it's actually to build the public supply of stock".

Tish Nathan and her family of 10 is currently staying in two campervans thanks to the initiative.

“We were staying in a tent at Tauranga Bay ... right up until lockdown, and because we couldn't stay there, we had to come back over here because they had locked all the facilities like toilets, showers," Ms Nathan said.

Ms Nathan, who works fulltime at a local cafe, has been trying to find a permanent home for the past seven years.

The campervans highlight how desperate the housing shortage is in the north. Northland iwi still have 900 families on their books waiting for somewhere to live.