Tauranga council grants $1 rent to Women's Refuge

By John Cousins, Ruth Keber

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Financial pressures weighing down Tauranga's Women's Refuge have been relieved by the city council agreeing to not charge rent for the safe house and community office.

The council yesterday unanimously decided to drop the annual rent for the two buildings from $23,000 to just one dollar.

Councillors were told that Tauranga was the second worst city in New Zealand for reported domestic abuse.

The decision followed an impassioned appeal by refuge manager Angela Warren-Clark who explained how they had to fundraise $10,000 a month just to keep the doors open. They received baseline Government funding of $186,000 a year.

Ultimately, it means more women and children in the community will have more services available to them. We're pretty happy.
Angela Warren-Clark

She explained how a lot of their work was unfunded or under-funded, and how the money saved in rent would be ploughed back into services.

''We are a long-standing service but very cash strapped.''

Mrs Warren-Clark told how family members came to them from hospital beaten black and blue. They housed up to 10 women and children at any one time.

And it wasn't only women who sought refuge after prolonged abuse. One women with four children came in ''utterly black and blue'' .

''It was the first time she had ever been hit by her partner.''

The family stayed with them for six weeks before moving to another community.

She said one in every three women were beaten during their lifetime. One of the under-funded programmes was the 12-week programmes for children who had witnessed domestic abuse. The refuge had funding for 16 children last year but delivered programmes for 40.

Mrs Warren-Clark said they relied on the generosity of organisations like Lions to maintain the buildings and she disagreed that paying a peppercorn rent would open the floodgates because other community service organisations received rent relief from the council.

Councillor Steve Morris commended Councillor Leanne Brown for taking the initiative for the Women's Refuge. ''In the scheme of things, this is not a high dollar amount.''

Mrs Warren-Clark said afterwards that she was ecstatic with the decision.

"Ultimately, it means more women and children in the community will have more services available to them. We're pretty happy."

The council's $1-a-year rent was for two years to August 2018 when there would be an organisation-wide rent review.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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