Many may be on streets, say Sallies

Service may not be financially sustainable

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 09/07/2012
Salvation Army captain Doug Newman outside the earthquake-risk building in Leven St that residents and staff had planned to leave for new  accommodation.
NICOLE GOURLEY/Fairfax NZ
GOING: Salvation Army captain Doug Newman outside the earthquake-risk building in Leven St that residents and staff had planned to leave for new accommodation. However, a lack of funding means the service may close completely.

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A lack of funding could mean the permanent closure of the Salvation Army Supportive Accommodation Services in Invercargill.

Salvation Army residents who are set to abandon their earthquake-risk building in Leven St may now be left on the streets.

The Salvation Army addictions and supportive accommodation national director Gerry Walker said he could not guarantee the continuation of the service in the city because it might not be financially sustainable.

"If the level of funding does not allow us to sustain the service, we may have to close it," he said.

Nationally, the Salvation Army was downsizing its services, as it did not expect the same level of income it had been receiving, he said.

A reduced level of income could also mean a reduction of services, he said.

The Salvation Army were organising internal funds and were in discussion with its external funders, the District Health Board and the Ministry of Social Development. They were only looking at closing the support services in Invercargill and not nationally he said.

He was hoping it would not close but it was a reality that had to faced.

The possibility would be discussed by the national board, which would also consider a reduction in the number of beds.

There would be no point looking at new accommodation options if they could not financially continue next year, he said.

He said the drastic decision for closure was also prompted by the earthquake building scenario.

An independent earthquake report declared the Leven St building unsafe in May, which forced staff to seek new accommodation to rehouse the men who are on bail or have no other options in the city.

He wanted to assure the residents in Invercargill that the decision would be made as quick as possible and expected it would take about three or four weeks.

Invercargill captains had proposed various options for accommodation to the board but no concrete decision had been made about services, he said.

Invercargill Salvation Army supportive accommodation director Captain Doug Newman said all decisions were made on a national level.

He was waiting on a reply from the board and territorial commissioner.

He had proposed that either they buy an existing building or move into purpose built accommodation.

"We had decided to build a new place but that had implications involving the council and resource consent," he said.

It was a big investment and the Salvation Army needed to be sure it was the right investment, he said.

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The Ministry of Social Development was reviewing its funding and that decision would have a significant effect on what will happen to the Invercargill and the national service, he said.

"All we can do is wait, while they consider the options in conjunction with a national approach on social services across the country," he said.

collette.devlin@stl.co.nz

- The Southland Times

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