Gayle Hooper was "sleeping in church doorways" before she found the shelter of the Christchurch City Mission.
Hooper, who found herself homeless in July, spoke at the opening of a new women's night shelter in Christchurch on Friday. She now has a home of her own that she shares with her cat, Douglas.
"I don't know where I would be today without the staff at the shelter," she said.
"They helped me to cope with being homeless."
The new night shelter was officially opened by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy and Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel on Friday. The purpose built shelter will provide more beds and better facilities than the temporary pilot project on Cashel St it has replaced.
Christchurch City Missioner Matthew Mark said the new building on Hereford St was "not just a shelter but a home and a home for people in real need".