Night shelter for Rotorua homeless

By Abigail Hartevelt of The Daily Post -
This property at 1469 Hinemoa St could be the site of a new night shelter for Rotorua's homeless. Photo / The Daily Post
This property at 1469 Hinemoa St could be the site of a new night shelter for Rotorua's homeless. Photo / The Daily Post

After 10 years, backers of a night shelter are close to securing a property for Rotorua's homeless.

Rotorua Community Nightshelter Trust chairman Reverend Alex Czerwonka, from St Luke's Church, confirmed they had a found a site but would not say where because issues remained unresolved with Rotorua District Council.

Rev Czerwonka said he was "pretty confident" about the site. It was close to the central city, had a very modest house and could accommodate up to seven people.

Initially, they could only afford to open the shelter two to three nights a week but the intention was to eventually have a full-time facility and employ other staff and attract volunteers to help run it.

The trust had received advice that it did not need resource consent.

"There are still some things to be done ... We are still negotiating with the council on it."

Rev Czerwonka said they wanted to tell neighbours before going public about where the property was and intended to meet them within the next fortnight.

"It's just a matter of courtesy."

He did not know what would happen if neighbours objected.

The owner of the property was aware of the trust's intentions.

"They are happy to support our proposal. We will be paying rent at market levels."

The council set aside $30,000 a year for three years in last year's annual plan and Rev Czerwonka said the trust had to meet certain conditions to get the funding.

The trust was set up in 2000 and since then a number of properties had been considered for a night shelter but were found to be unsuitable or had fallen through.

Last year, the funding was allocated by the council after Rev Czerwonka made a submission saying he understood it was not a popular cause but there were no easy solutions for the problem of homelessness.

As well as the $30,000 a year for three years from the council, the trust already has $20,000 from a grant from the Rotorua Trust and money raised from a Rotary project.

The trust would seek financial support from community groups, churches and government organisations.

The night shelter would cost about $62,000 a year to run on a part-time.

The night shelter had been a long time coming but he hoped to confirm details about the property was by the end of next month.

Council community projects officer Bob Austin said the council was keen to see the shelter operating as soon as possible and had encouraged Rev Czerwonka to contact the council's planning department about whether a consent was required.

"Should a consent not be required then we can proceed to draw up a Contract for Services with the trust and obtain agreement from both parties."

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