It's a difficult situation Tiny Deane has found himself in.

Dedicating his time to helping the city's homeless is an admirable mission, but, as I'm sure Tiny can attest, the journey has not been lacking in road blocks along the way.

First it was the struggle to find a suitable premises for the homeless shelter, then it was the issue of getting consent and the subsequent closure of the shelter.

Now, with a new premises and consent, Tiny is faced with managing the impact of the shelter and its users on the surrounding businesses.


In Thursday's Rotorua Daily Post we learnt a women's gym next to the shelter has been forced to close because clients were being intimidated by the homeless.

Mariana Morrison decided to shut Forme Fitness, citing loitering and anti-social behaviour of the shelter's users as the primary reason.

Of course that kind of behaviour is going to have a huge impact on businesses and as a business owner you would be livid - that's your livelihood being affected by something outside your control.

However, I can see it from Tiny's point of view too, who was quoted in the story as saying, "I'm doing the best I can, but it is such a hard job ..."

Tiny said he had asked the shelter's users to respect others using the street but at the end of the day, he is just one person and can't be expected to have control of every situation 24/7.

When all you are trying to do is help the homeless but you come up against road block after road block, it is easy to see why so many people would rather turn a blind eye to the problem than take up that responsibility.

The homeless have to go somewhere and unless we put a shelter in the middle of the wops - out of sight, out of mind - they are going to have an impact on those around them.

But perhaps the problem is not where we put the homeless but how we react to them.


If we treat the homeless like loitering nuisances, that's all they will ever be. But if we - government, businesses and individuals - genuinely work together, we could come up with some real solutions.

It's not enough to hire more security to move the homeless on, we should be looking at holistic programmes aimed at reintegrating the homeless into functioning society - education programmes, drug and addiction, counselling, job programmes - anything that actually touches on the root of the problem, not just the surface.

I know there's agencies who have already tried or are trying to do this but for it to work effectively, we need every sector of society to buy in.

The homeless problem is not for one person to carry on their shoulders - it's time we share the load.