The donation box house made by Henley Men’s Shed for the Homeless House Fund. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
gianina.schwanecke@age.co.nz

Wairarapa’s growing homeless population finally has a place to call home – and just in time as winter starts to bite.

It’s a goal that’s been more than one year in the making.

Masterton Foodbank co-ordinator Lyn Tankersley first appealed to Wairarapa property owners last May, calling for a space where she and a locally formed committee, Shelter Masterton, could establish a night shelter.

She spoke to Masterton councillor and Harcourts Masterton real estate agent Bex Johnson and asked her to keep an eye out for suitable properties.

It was a conversation almost forgotten until they bumped into each other at the supermarket last month.

From there it all moved very quickly, Tankersley said.

“When we saw the house, we knew it was perfect for the things we wanted to do.

“What really ticked our box was the section.”

Within two weeks of viewing the house, they put in an offer and are now scheduled to take it over in July.

They hope to provide transitional housing for about 10 people.

“It’s not necessarily getting them a house.

“A lot of them can’t cope with a house. It’s small steps along the road to helping them get one.”

One of the four bedrooms will be used for staff and six cabins under 10m2 will be placed on the large section.

“We want to build cabins to go on this property, so need help from builders with excess building products and insulation that we can use.

“We also need home products and services to make this happen.”

The group was able to buy the property with support from the bank and large donations but would still need financial support from the community.

“We have a good plan in place to do our very best to see this through, but we can’t do this on our own and need help from everyone in Masterton.

“I know the Masterton community will come on board with this as they have for the foodbank.”

Tankersley said Masterton was one of few places in New Zealand that didn’t have a night shelter, and many motels were already full of people without access to housing.

“Since the closure of the Empire Hotel and Victoria St backpackers, there has been nowhere for those who require transitional housing to go.

“There are some agencies who are helping to ease this situation, but this does not include the people living on the street who require extra care to house.

“The same homeless that were on our Masterton streets 12 months ago, are still on our streets today.”

The day shelter running from St Matthew’s Church in Masterton would also be moved to the new house and people will still be able to get food, showers, and wash their clothes at the new house.

The location is yet to be made public.

A little wooden house for any donations had been made by the Henley Men’s Shed and was at Westpac Bank in Queen St, she said. Donations can also be made to their account, 03-0687-0039146-00.