Homeless woman moved on from church parking lot

Lisa Warnock has lived in the All Saints Anglican Church’s parking lot in Howick for nine months. Photo Zoe Garden.

A homeless woman has been asked to vacate the premises of a church parking lot in Howick after living there for nine months.

Lisa Warnock’s car was towed from the All Saints Anglican Church in Ponsonby before she moved to the All Saints Anglican Church in Howick in October of last year.

She has been using a single parking space besides the entrance/exit of the church ever since. She sleeps in her car, which she cannot drive due to an expired driver’s licence and no warrant of fitness, and uses the close proximity to visit her aging mother.

“It’s a nice big area. I used to sleep on the balcony of the church in 2015. One of the employees there gave me a camping bed to sleep on,” Warnock says.

“It’s a nice big area. The staff have been polite to me.”

Warnock received a formal notice to move her vehicle from the carpark on July 23. In the letter written by the church’s vicar Andrew Coyle, it states that the car is to be removed within the next 10 days, the final day being August 1.

“If you do not have it removed, we will look to have it towed from August 2. We appreciate that this may be a difficult time for you. We hope you will take any offers of assistance from relevant social service agencies.”

Warnock claims that the church hasn’t explained any reasoning as to why they’ve suddenly decided to tow her after nine months. “He’s (Coyle) had plenty of time to bring up an issues they might’ve had with me,” she says. “I’m hardly ever there.”

Coyle told the Times that the delay was due to pursuing other avenues prior to the formal notice. “We contacted police and social services,” he says. “City Mission put us in contact with another agency. She (Lisa) wasn’t willing to take an offer.

“We were hopeful she’d take the services on offer.”

Warnock confirms the church offered her a service about getting re-housed through another group, but the problem, she says, was they didn’t cater for east Auckland. “I used to live on Moore Street for 13 years,” she says. “My mother lives in Gibraltar Street. It’s better for me to stick closer to her. I didn’t want to accept their help for that sole reason.”

Coyle says the carpark is a “space used by many users whose needs we have to balance”.

“We had a number of conversations about particular behaviours (with Warnock). We were able to talk with her and get a helpful response.”

He says the church is prepared to pay for any towing Warnock’s vehicle may need. With assistance from a local willing to tow her vehicle, Warnock is planning to move to Howick Presbyterian Church.