Hunt on for new home

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 06/06/2012

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The clock is ticking for Salvation Army residents and staff planning to abandon their earthquake-riskbuilding in Invercargill and they still have no place to go.

Last month an independent earthquake report declared the Leven St building unsafe.

However, with only two weeks left before the one month deadline to move, the search continues for new accommodation.

The 35-bed building is home to men who are on bail or have no other options in the city.

Invercargill Salvation Army supportive accommodation directors said several places had been looked at but none were suitable.

Captains Doug and Janet Newman said they would consider shifting the moving date until suitable accommodation is found.

"Obviously the safety of the men is our priority but we can not just throw them out into the street," Mr Newman said.

The plan was now to buy a building rather than rent.

"We require a place not too far from town, with at least two sections together," Mrs Newman said.

Her biggest worry was that people, who did not understand the service, would not welcome it in their area.

The army would consider a block of flats with room for on-site development, a reasonable-sized house with an adjoining section or land to build on, she said.

The group of about 15 men living in the building wanted to stay with the service, she said.

The old nursing quarters building, which was built in 1905, belonged to the Salvation Army.

Mr Newman said he did not know what would happen to the building when the service moved out. He believed the army would still have to pay rates to the Invercargill City Council and it would lose value sitting empty.

"Whatever happens, we will be taking a financial hit but something has to be done and our immediate concern is the welfare of the men," Mrs Newman said.

Salvation Army addictions and supportive accommodation national director Gerry Walker said no decision had been made about the building because the focus was on moving the service.

"We will then have a look at options, such as the costs associated with earthquake strengthening or if it's even feasible. Many questions need to be answered," he said.

"We are developing a model of care to meet the requirements of the men around the country," he said.

collette.devlin@stl.co.nz

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- The Southland Times

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