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Work still to do for new night refuge

There’s still red tape to be hacked through before the ribbon-cutting for the long-awaited Kim’s Way night refuge in Masterton can be held.

Project coordinator Lyn Tankersley estimates there are currently about 20 cases of extreme homelessness in Masterton, with a further 80 sleeping in vehicles at sites like Henley Lake.

The original aim had been to open the refuge several months ago, but although Masterton District Council issued a resource consent a few weeks ago, the building consent is still being processed as winter slowly wanes.

The council sent a request for further information regarding the building consent that was mainly related to fire safety on June 7.

Silverwood Architects Ltd is assisting with the documentation and director Darryl Silverwood confirmed the firm is working on getting council approval.

“Part of this process is the fire engineering, which of course these days is very relevant where many people are sleeping in one building,” Silverwood said.

“The recent fire in Wellington has emphasised this even more.”

The refuge is composed of one main hall and three smaller cabins out the back, two of which were recently shifted onto the site.

Silverwood said the hall will have a limited sleeping occupancy of 10 people, while the cabins are intended to have one occupant each. “The building is a very old timber frame structure, thus needs quite a bit of work to bring it up to code.”

The project also includes the development of a new bathroom with toilet and shower facilities, with an interior and exterior repaint, “to give a more comfortable environment for the users”.

Tankersley said the final sign-off from council is eagerly awaited and emphasised that the behind-the-scenes work Silverwood and his team are putting in is invaluable.

“We just take our hat off to him – he and his staff have really been working overtime for us, working in the background and doing the fire requirements, the building requirements, liaising with the council and the questions they come back with,” she said.

Local MP Kieran McAnulty recently paid a visit to the refuge site and said he is extremely impressed with what has been achieved so far.

“I pay tribute to Lyn and the team for getting this off the ground and getting it to this stage.”

McAnulty said the complex nature of homelessness means there needs to be a wide variety of services for those at risk.

“Social and community support, the benefits system as well as shelter accommodation, emergency, transitional and social housing all have a role to play,” McAnulty said.

“Once Kim’s Way becomes operational it will fill a gap in support for our homeless whānau and will add to the support available to a vulnerable community.”

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Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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