Watch: Ending homelessness in Christchurch


This is the second episode looking at Housing First, an organisation funded by the city council and Government to get 100 ‘chronically homeless’ Christchurch people into homes by 2020. It had its critics, so is it actually working? Watch the first episode here.

It is slightly chilly in the house. Henare ‘Uncle’ McLean has his cheeky trademark smile on his face when he questions if we really do feel cold.

‘Geeze, I’m hot as,’ he says, making a cup of coffee for his visitors in a short-sleeved shirt and a tie he put on especially for the occasion.

Uncle knows what it is to be truly cold. He has lived on the streets on Christchurch for more than eight years, bundled in jackets, sleeping with his faithful companions, dogs Bolos and Girlfriend, on either side to keep warm.

Uncle is one of 31 people to be housed under the city council and Government funded $4m Housing First programme.

He has gained weight, is fascinated by cooking programmes on his small telly and looks scornfully at his heat pump.

‘I don’t think I’ll ever need that!’

There are slight tears in his eyes when he remembers his friends who died on the streets. He wishes they were still around to have a cuppa at his new home.

He takes us to the abandoned building he used to squat in. He’s been in hundreds. On his phone which he lost, he recorded a photo of each.

Uncle reckons he is a stubborn man. He didn’t think he needed help — he didn’t need a house. But things changed when Housing First came on the scene. As it has for many of the city’s longer-term homeless.


  1. […] Henare (‘Uncle’) is another one of the people housed by Housing First since May last year. “When I was on the streets, I thought I didn’t need help. But, you really do need help,” he says.  Too many of Uncle’s friends died while they lived on Christchurch streets. He wishes they could come around and have a cuppa in his new house. Learn some of Uncle’s story and what faces many others in Ending Homelessness in Christchurch. […]