Homeless issue big in city - Salvation Army

NICCI MCDOUGALL
Last updated 05:00 25/04/2014

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More homeless people are being helped by the Salvation Army in Invercargill, highlighting the need for a shelter in the city.

In January, Invercargill Salvation Army captain Perry Bray, on behalf of the Southland Breathing Space Trust, told the Invercargill City Council an overnight shelter was needed.

The council supported the idea but had not included a financial contribution towards it in the draft annual plan.

The council has asked for submissions on whether it should support and contribute towards the establishment of the shelter. Submissions close on Wednesday at 5pm.

The trust hoped for between $40,000 and $50,000 from the council, Bray said.

It was estimated the trust would need about $80,000 to cover setup costs, wages and the lease of the building, he said. The public will be able to make donations in the next month.

The trust had looked at a property in the city that was intended to house short-term and emergency accommodation with a capacity of about six people a night. A support person would be on-site and on call all hours, he said.

The shelter would open as soon as enough funds were available.

The need for it had become even more apparent in the past few months, he said.

The Invercargill Salvation Army had helped about 10 homeless people in the past six months compared to about five in the six months before.

"It's a bigger issue in Invercargill than most people recognise."

The Salvation Army needed a place to house people while it worked with budget advice or any other supports the person needed to get back on their feet as well as support to find permanent accommodation, Bray said.

Homeless people were not just those living on the streets but also those living on couches at other people's houses because they had nowhere else to go.

Council finance and policy committee chairman Neil Boniface said if the council funded the project, the money would come out of either the general reserve or be funded through an increase in rates.

Channelling the funding through rates means ratepayers would face a 0.5 per cent increase instead of the 0.4 per cent proposed increase, he said.

"It would have an impact but not a big one."

It was a viable and good proposal but it was up to the council whether it put money towards it, Boniface said.

Councillors will consider submissions on the draft annual plan during hearings next month. nicci.mcdougall@stl.co.nz

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