Tauranga's homeless have found beds in the most unlikely places, but those behind the moves says it's working. Journalist Kelly Makiha finds out more.
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Tauranga's RSA has been converted to house the city's homeless in a move that's being described as a win-win.
A Tauranga social services agency that looks after emergency housing clients said its need doubled during the coronavirus lockdown and the Tauranga RSA was able to provide 24 rooms.
Tauranga RSA president Fred Milligan said the RSA had bills to pay and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development-funded emergency housing scheme was able to provide it with an income stream in what was a "needs must" decision.
"They (those needing homes) are happy as sand boys there. They have terrific security and everything is well looked after," Mulligan said.
Tauranga's Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services Trust executive director Tommy Wilson said when lockdown hit, they needed to find beds fast.
"Lockdown has been the most amazing learning curve of all time. We have increased our capacity 100 per cent in terms of families we are looking after."
He said they took on the RSA on Cameron Rd for three weeks and by the second week it was full.
"It's been perfect for them and for us."
Wilson said lockdown levels meant the "bad elements" were able to be kept out and tight security was enforcing the rules.
Wilson said when the money "tap gets turned off" when the wage subsidy ran out, they expected their need to increase.
"It's only going to get busier as we deal with the working poor."
Meanwhile, Mulligan said the RSA was having a committee meeting on Monday night to determine the future of the premises.
The arrangement was working well, but he was unsure how long it would continue.
"During the first week of our lockdown, we had some massive bills, $3500 was one and it might not sound a lot but it is when you've got no income."
He said the trust came along with an offer that provided a solution.
"They had a problem and we had an answer ... We had something there (24 empty rooms) and they needed them in a hurry. It's at least giving us some breathing space at the minute."
Quest Tauranga and Quest on Durham also changed focus during the lockdown and provided emergency housing for the city's homeless, but they were now welcoming back corporate travellers.
Quest Apartment Hotels New Zealand group general manager Adrian Turner said Quest Tauranga Central and Quest on Durham remained a beacon to those needing emergency housing, which allowed those residents a moment to breathe and get back on their feet.
Bay of Plenty Tourism chief executive officer Kristin Dunne said the impact of Covid-19 on the tourism industry was significant.
"I applaud Quest's Tauranga properties for swiftly pivoting their business by providing accommodation to our community's most vulnerable and, in doing so, retaining staff."
Meanwhile, Tauranga Moana Men's Night Shelter manager Annamarie Angus said they had 15 people staying in the shelter during level 1 and 2 and she was incredibly proud of how they'd coped.
She said they had to keep their bubble tight, but for the first time many of them had a sense of belonging.
She said while her staff would normally be doing consultations, they were instead some days playing Monopoly and table tennis with those staying there.
The staff did the grocery shopping for most of them as some were older than 70 or had health conditions.
Despite enjoying the forced lockdown, they were looking forward to their added freedom from today, she said. .