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Glimmer of hope for homeless

Repairs and renovations have begun on a house for the homeless at 13 Elizabeth St, Masterton. PHOTO/SUE TEODORO

Sue Teodoro

A small, but significant, lifeline is near for the growing number of homeless in Wairarapa.

The shrinking pool of rentals and chronic lack of social housing in the region has led to people living in motels, pubs and on friends’ couches.

In the worst cases, some have been forced to live on the street.

However, Masterton District Council has granted building consent for work on a house at 13 Elizabeth St in central Masterton, which is hoped to provide a permanent home for about nine homeless people.

The work, part of Project Manaaki, started last week and is expected to take a few months to finish.

Lyn Tankersley is the co-ordinator of the Masterton Shelter and is closely involved with Project Manaaki, along with several other people, all volunteers.

She stressed this was not planned to be temporary housing.

“This will be their home. We are giving them a permanent solution,” she said.

“We don’t know how long it will take. We would dearly love people to be in the house by winter.”

Tankersley said the comprehensive programme included everything from structural work such as re-piling, to final touches such as fit-out and furnishings.

The large wooden house is elevated while a team of contractors does the work underneath.

After the re-piling was finished, further renovations and repairs would follow.

“There is also structural work to be done inside, including putting in a new bathroom and shower,” Tankersley said.

Final design comprises two bathrooms, including showers, a kitchen and separate kitchenette and two communal relaxation areas [one internal and one external.

Onsite wifi and television is also planned.

“We want people to have everything they need,” Tankersley said.

“There are five cabins going up on the back section. We are building a big outdoor area for the house as well.”

The cabins and five internal rooms will be fully furnished for the occupants, including carpets and curtains.

Once the house is ready for its new occupants, it is planned there will be 24/7 staff onsite, with a room set aside for staff.

The house was bought and donated to the project by a private donor. Funds from Trust House and the Masterton District Council are being used for the work, with further funds being sought.

  • More information about the project is on a large board in the window at 9 Church St, Masterton.

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