Council to fund homeless shelter

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 14:23 15/07/2014
Amy Burke
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Fairfax NZ
KINDNESS: Amy Burke distributes food and clothing to homeless people on a no-questions-asked basis.

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The city council is roping in the Government to help set up a new shelter that will provide temporary accommodation for the growing number of people living rough on Christchurch's streets.

The council plans to resurrect the old City Mission building in Hereford St and convert it into four units where homeless people can stay for two to three weeks while they get the support they need to secure a permanent roof over their head.

Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck said the government had committed to paying $100,000 towards the $200,000 cost of getting the shelter operational and the council would pay the balance.

The shelter was the first step in a range of measures the council was looking at to address the intolerable situation faced by the city's homeless.

Amy Burke, who set up the Facebook page Help for the Homeless Christchurch, broke down in tears as she told Buck and other members of the council's housing committee about the plight of some of the homeless people she had met.

"How is it in Christchurch there are people living on the streets, cold, hungry and confused?'' she said. "This will not do - this not good enough.

"Help me to help them to help themselves. What I need from you is a homeless hub - a hub from which we can help these locals re-enter society,'' Burke said.

"This is needed and needed now. It must take priority.''

Karen Terris, who has been working with the homeless as a volunteer for about 18 months, said there was a desperate need in Christchurch for another night shelter for the homeless.

The City Mission's shelter was operating at capacity and it could not cope with the sheer volumes of people who were now living homeless in the city.

Terris said she was working regularly with a group of between 30 and 50 people, mainly men, who did not have anywhere to stay and who spent their time moving from one abandoned building to another.

"Everybody should have a roof over their head and these guys don't. They can't speak for themselves. These guys are at the bottom. They've got nothing and no one,'' Terris said.

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