A new hub for Nelson’s homeless is only months away after a “whirlwind” effort from Nelson Rotary clubs and funding from the city council.

The Male Room director Philip Chapman said the daytime shelter, called Whare Haumanu, was a “fantastic effort” from many people and organisations. It is expected to be up and running in March next year.

He said the efforts of the Rotary clubs of Nelson had been crucial for the project, making connections in the community and getting donations of time, expertise and money towards the build.

Published in Stuff

“They have just taken the project and run with it,” he said.

“We never would have managed without them. It is a really great community effort.”

Whare Haumanu will be a 35 square metre building with a shower, toilet, laundry and kitchen facilities, a dining area, and a supervisor’s office. It will be open during the day on weekdays and members of the homeless community will have the chance to work in its kitchen.

Chapman said the homeless community had been asked for input into what they wanted to get out of the hub.

“It’s not us deciding what they want, it’s their space.

“What we’ve got to dip into is what skills they have, because to live on the streets you need skills. I wouldn’t last, but they do. They look after each other.”

He said there was high demand for services from The Male Room, and for the first time there was a waiting list to access its free counselling services. He said 40 people came to the Male Room in a single day last week.

“[Whare Haumanu] took a long time going through the council structure … that’s how it is, but once we got the go ahead and got the funding, it’s been like a whirlwind with the Rotary Club,” Chapman said.

In his last report as chairman of the Nelson City Council community services committee on Thursday, councillor Matt Lawrey said the progress on the Whare Haumanu was an achievement that “really needs to be acknowledged”.

“Last summer the council was, in my opinion, rightfully and repeatedly pilloried in the media for providing facilities for freedom campers ahead of our homeless community,” he said

“Watching that unfold, and getting a better understanding of the plight of our homeless population, made me and others around this table determined that Nelson had to do better.

“I’ll admit that progress has been slower than I hoped, and we had one or two speed bumps along the way, but I’m proud that this community has pushed the issue to the point that [Nelson City] Council committed to the funding that was needed to get others on board, including the hugely impressively Rotary clubs of Nelson.”

Gaile Noonan, in her role as the president of Rotary Club of Nelson, gave an update on the progress of the Whare Haumanu project to the community serices committee.

“There has been a lot of work that’s been completed by our project team with the help of in-kind donations of professional services and at no cost to the project,” she said.

“When we first came to you we had two options, we had a classroom that we were looking at bringing over from Marlborough or looking at going out to get a new build portacom type thing.

“We eliminated the classroom, that just wasn’t going to work … it just became too complex, and we decided to go with doing a request for a proposal, for a specifically designed building. So that’s what we’ve gone for.

“There’s much more that’s going to be provided.”

She said the net project cost was $92,592, including a $9,758 contingency. The council provided $30,000 in funding, plus an additional $3,500 from the Mayoral fund.

Nelson’s four Rotary clubs provided $10,000 in funding towards the hub, and applied to the Rotary District to provide an additional $10,000. Confirmation of the district funding is expected this week.

By Skara Bohny
Published in Stuff
02 Nov 2020