Celebrating our Auckland Hostel
20 Years of the YWCA Auckland Hostel
Providing safe and affordable accommodation has been a consistent theme over YWCA Auckland’s 140-year history with four different hostel sites opening and closing over this time. In the earliest days and during the World Wars our hostels provided shelter for young women moving to the city from rural areas, drawn by the prospect of jobs and opportunities. In the 1960s and ’70s, our hostels were halls of residence for female university students.
As the new millennium dawned, a determined YWCA Board and community rallied together to raise the money needed to purchase and refurbish the old police barracks at 103 Vincent St in central Auckland. This increased our accommodation provision from 57 beds to 140. Over the years that has increased to 170 rooms, three of seven floors are female only, and the vast majority of residents are long-term.
We talked to a couple of our long-term residents to find out they think of the Hostel and the team that runs it:
Why are you staying at the YWCA Hostel:
We were shown around by the lovely managers and given a lowdown about the history of the organization, what it does, and how the building operates. And that's why we're here, it fit perfectly with what we wanted - a long term, affordable homelike environment. It's home-like but it's also a community and we like that very much.
How long have you been staying at the Hostel?
We’ve been here since October and we have put through till the end of the year at least. So we'll probably be here for two years. It's a really good place to explore more of Auckland but also more of New Zealand.
What are you in NZ for?
We met online like the millenials we are way back in 2016 - one American, one Australian. After living together in Tasmania for six months we got married. Due to visa issues, we decided to move to New Zealand. The main reason that we're here is that we couldn't be apart and the only other way to be together was to find somewhere else to be in the interim while we worked and saved money.
And I think one of the things that has made the last four months tolerable is staying here. We have gone through quite a bit of stress in the last year. Here you have your sanctuary and I can pretty much do whatever I want to do or need to do in this space. It's a little community that is very quietly and secretly supportive of itself - there's no drama.
[The Hostel] has such nice, peaceful common areas. We especially love the lounge, study room, the TV room and the porch area. And if you need to you can always go downstairs and be in that nice open space and see other humans and talk to them if you want to.
For someone who is considering staying long-term at the Hostel, what advice would you give that person?
Storage containers are your best friend. Leaving things out just isn't a good idea. Making things nice for yourself is a huge help - get a couple of potted plants for example. Cut down on clutter and keep things tidy.
In the initial rule list that you're given when you first move in, it says that [the Y Hostel] wants you to make your room your own. If you're going to be here for longer than a few days, I think it's really worth it to establish that because then you feel like you have a place and you feel a part of everything. And the staff are really, really good at this and considerate. Since we’ve been here they have organised things like a Christmas barbecue. Other things happen spontaneously when residents leave, like little parties that everyone can wander through and join and that is very lovely.
Another really good thing is that there's such a sense of community here. You'll see notices saying “hey, do you want to share my internet?” It's a group of people helping each other out instead of shutting each other out or cutting each other down.
Plus, it is in such a great location to go explore. There are parks everywhere around here. There's K Road. There are tons of little boutiques and vintage stores and if you go down Queen Street, there's lots of other stuff. It's in a great position whilst maintaining a little bit of anonymity that I appreciate.
What do you like most about the Hostel?
I think one of the reasons that this building is so lovely and that everyone is so good about cleaning up after themselves and keeping everything nice is because it's in that state already. Everything is cleaned frequently and very thoroughly by the staff. You're aware of the effort that goes into that. I don't want to undo this lovely work someone has just done to make this place so livable and nice for everyone. The care and the love that the people that work [in the Hostel] have for the building and the residents makes you want to take care of it and do well by them.
Steve (Hostel Duty Manager) knows everyone's name. It's a very nice feeling. You know, we all live together. So we always have somebody.
Pick one word or a short sentence to describe your time here:
Just what we needed.
I think we accidentally found a very comfortable, restful home and that is quite rare.
They're very understanding any time there's any hiccups or issues. They help us work through and find solutions rather than just being “well, that's your problem”.
It's a good place full of good people. And that's really all anybody can ask for.
Hear what some of our other long term residences have to say: