News | 9 May 2022

Jason's story: Gaining trust, one conversation at a time

DCM, an organisation supported by Wellington City Council, is working hard to support the city’s most marginalised community to find and sustain housing. Jason is one of DCM’s success stories.

A person standing with their artwork.
Image by Gabrielle McKone

Jason sees the world through colours.  

His art is the way he likes to express himself, with his work being loved and purchased by Wellingtonians. But, it is also the reason he was able to start a new chapter of his life. 

Over the years, Jason has struggled with addiction and his mental health, which led him away from his whānau in the Hawkes Bay and to sleep rough around Wellington.  

DCM first met Jason when he was rough sleeping in a cave in 2018.  

Around the time that DCM began working with Jason, he met Janet Dunn, a Local Host from Wellington City Council. It was with Janet that he began to open up more about his hopes and underlying needs.  

“I first met Jason when I was working as a local host,” says Janet. “He was living in his ‘cave’ up in Kelburn, and would regularly sell his paintings on Lambton Quay. I loved them, and ended up buying two of them. This cemented our connection.” 

Image of a woman standing infront of a cave.

In 2019, Janet moved to a role in the outreach team at DCM that is funded by Wellington City Council and continued working with Jason. She was very intentional about the way she would engage with him, making sure to keep him up to date and explaining things in great detail – gaining his trust one conversation at a time.  

She found that the one thing that made him tick was his art, and that this could be one of the levers for housing. Together, they worked through the struggles of rough sleeping and how the weather could affect his art - his works-in-progress could be destroyed by rain, and he didn’t have any place to keep his materials.

When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in 2020, Jason had to make the decision to move in with a friend. He found that he could spend time indoors, feel safe, and make a home.  

Over time, DCM were able to work with Jason to get him a room at the Set-Up and within an hour, Jason had his own room. 

By the end of the year, Jason moved into his very own home. 

A person standing with their arms out.
Image by Gabrielle McKone

Having his own space, and a chance to start fresh has turned Jason’s life around. He caught a glimpse of what was possible for his future, and realised that he could achieve everything he had hoped for himself. He was able to return back to the Hawke’s Bay for his father’s funeral, and is now planning for how his daughter can be a part of his life again.  

“I can be me now!” 

With the help of DCM – Jason is now settled, loves to care for his whare, and is enjoying his art and the space to be himself. 

Read the full story about Jason on the DCM website.

Wellington City Council has been a proud supporter of DCM for over 25 years, through both funding and partnership. As a partner of the Pōneke Promise programme, DCM are working closely with Council and other partners to help achieve our vision of a safer, more vibrant and welcoming city – for everyone.