Bleak Beginnings to Safe Haven - Ayla's Story
Ayla Hoeta’s attitude to, and success in life, belies bleak beginnings.
Growing up her life was challenging - gang connections, family members in jail, teenage mothers without the resources needed to look after babies, alcohol, unemployment…Yet somehow Ayla - once in state care - had an extensive education (she’s the proud holder of an honours’ degree) and has an interesting and flourishing career. She’s raised twin boys, now aged 10, as a sole parent and she’s a home owner.
The latter is certainly an achievement under her circumstances, let alone in the escalating and exorbitant Auckland housing market.
But having a home, a safe haven, for her and her family had always been top priority for Ayla, something she just had to strive for. And with some all-important help it happened.
Ayla applied for a home in the Waimahia Inlet development undertaken by a partnership between The Housing Foundation, Tamaki Collective, The Maori Trustee and CORT Community Housing, all not-for profit organisations dedicated to providing affordable housing for families in a beautiful coastal setting facing the Manukau Harbour.
Waimahia is a new community of affordable homes, primarily for first home buyers, using the assisted ownership financial products offered by the partners such as shared home ownership, rent to buy, home saver and community rental products.
It boasts close to 100 percent of its 300 homes sold as “affordable” with 70 percent assisted affordable and 30 percent sold to the private market. Each is architecturally designed to be warm and energy efficient and built by experienced registered builders to a high standard. And it enjoys a number of reserves, parks and playgrounds.
Ayla and her boys Kyran and Lyronz love living there. Their three-bedroom, two-storeyed modern home has been lovingly decorated. The boys have decals of their favourite basketball players shooting hoops above their beds and in the garden flowers, vegetables and herbs are flourishing.
Apart from a few family members in her grandparents’ generation no one else in Ayla’s family has bought a house. It just wasn’t something any of them thought they could make happen. But Ayla was on a mission.
“I guess you could say that when I put my mind to something I do make it happen,” says Ayla. “It wasn’t easy but the end result was definitely worth it. We absolutely love this house and every day I feel blessed my boys and I have somewhere safe and nice to live and grow.”
Ayla was 18 when the boys were born and by her own admission very immature. But she had entrepreneurial skills. She would buy cheap clothes in opp shops, clean them up and make a few artistic additions and then sell them online and worked at the Otara Market selling vegetables for a small profit.
When Ayla finished her degree the boys had just turned five and she had saved money towards a deposit on a house. But it wasn’t enough. She picked up more work as a lecturing assistant while completing her honours degree and saved every cent.
“I had got a job at The Southern Initiative as the director’s PA with the opportunity to use my degree on a special project aimed at giving rangatahi a voice,” says Ayla.
“My life was finally falling into place and a time for the icing on the cake – a place to call home.
“A work colleague told me about Waimahia so I went to have a look. As soon as I got there I could feel the energy of something special. My heart was beating out of my chest and I just knew it was going to be the community where I lived.
“So I started the application process. Initially I only had enough to get a two bedroomed place but with a bit more determination and saving I managed to save enough to apply for a three bedroomed one.
“It was so exciting. On the day we got the key the boys and I camped out on a mattress in the lounge with no electricity or anything but just to revel in the fact we were the proud owners of a beautiful new home. We had somewhere safe to live. We were so, so happy.”
Today, Ayla is TSI’s Youth Innovator and oversees a digital crowd empowerment platform called Upsouth which asks youngsters how they feel about community issues and offers them a chance to contribute to solutions. Upsouth won Auckland Council’s 2018 Engagement Awards and has also received overseas recognition of the socially innovative work it is doing.
Ayla loves her job. She visits schools to talk to young people about the platform and she uses her communications skills to market the initiative.
“These days I feel strong, independent and settled. Buying a house was incredibly empowering and it has given me and the boys a feeling of security. The mortgage and all the other costs associated with the house are large but I just make sure I stay on top of the bills. Love those automatic payments!”
Ayla owns 70 percent of her house. The rest is owned by the Trust. Ayla is working hard to ensure she owns her home 100 percent as soon as possible. And after that?
“I’ve always dreamed about a beautiful family home in Maraetai near the marae and the beach…”