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Shelter needed for town’s homeless

Homelessness is not just a city problem. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

Call goes out for suitable CBD building

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
[email protected]

The state of homelessness in Masterton has prompted a group of citizens to put the call out for a building owner to come forward and provide a temporary night shelter.

Group leader and Masterton Foodbank co-ordinator Lyn Tankersley said homelessness was not just a city problem, contrary to what people may think.

“We know of about six people sleeping out in the open in Masterton.

“Homelessness is a complex issue for which there is no straightforward answer, however at the very least we as a community need to provide shelter, somewhere for them to go for warm food and a place to sleep for the night.”

With winter starting to bite, the group is increasingly concerned about the welfare and safety of people living rough.

“With night-time temperatures already around freezing at this time of year – and it is only going to get colder – people sleeping rough are going to find it extremely difficult to get warm, [maintain] dry clothing and get hot food,” Tankersley said.

Without shelter and support, people on the streets would be exposed not only to the elements but also harm, she said.

A night shelter acts as a place of transition for people without a home, where they can have a degree of comfort and security.

Having a stable base also made it easier for them to access social services and confront the underlying factors that resulted in them being on the streets.

A building within Masterton’s central business district would be an ideal location, though Tankersley didn’t want business owners to be concerned about the impact of rough sleepers to their business.

“We are looking for a building that is possibly within the CBD area, but away from the shop fronts,” she said.

“We just want to see what we can do to give help and love to people who are struggling.”

A Masterton social worker Donna Laing working for a local NGO said she had noticed an increase in the number of homeless people across the region.

“There’s certainly been an increase,” she said.

Partly she said this could be attributed to an increase in rental costs rising across the country prompting families to “couch surf”.

Laing said she wasn’t aware of anywhere for local homeless to go though.

“It appears to be more single men, but I know there are concerns about some women that are now in that situation as well.”

Apart from Women’s Refuge, there has been no emergency accommodation in Masterton since 1998 when the Salvation Army closed their Lincoln Rd shelter.

In August last year it was announced that 80 new public housing places would be built in the area covered by the Wairarapa electorate by 2022, including 50 in Masterton.

Anyone with a potentially suitable building is asked to contact Lyn on [027] 356-6592 or email her at [email protected]

5 COMMENTS

  1. We have the same problem in Auckland. The new railway station in Manukau City opened its doors last winter for people to be able to sleep indoors overnight. I think problems arise from external factors such as alcohol and drug abuse I.e who is going to monitor the situation overnight regarding safety of individuals. But with only six down there, it’s probably not so hard to achieve. Wish you well…ps I can donate some warm home knitted hats if you would like.

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