3 Jul 2020

Night shelter closes doors after half a century of service

5:55 pm on 3 July 2020

Wellington Night Shelter has officially closed its doors after more than 50 years of providing emergency accommodation to men in the capital.

Wellington Night Shelter

Sixteen jobs are being lost with the closure of the Wellington Night Shelter and the transfer of services to the City Mission. Photo: Supplied

The City Mission has taken over services and has been gifted the building by the trust, with the aim of ending rough sleeping in Wellington.

The night shelter was established in 1969 by the-then City Missioner. Chair John Kennedy Good said it was like going "full circle".

He said the trust had been looking at ways to offer more holistic care to the men who used the accommodation, but after a review of its operation during the Covid-19 lockdown it found it was unable to offer that support.

He said the shelter could not "provide wraparound services and the City Mission was in a better place to do that".

"It's a sad day to be closing the doors, but it's a new beginning," he added.

"We appreciate their (City Mission's) assistance and the work they're doing for homeless men in Wellington. In essence, they can do it better than we can."

The City Mission stepped in to open up extra emergency accommodation facilities during the lockdown to help with physical distancing.

However, the Wellington City Missioner, Murray Edridge, said the night shelter was still struggling to provide the necessary care and support for the remaining men in the shelter.

He said it was a "difficult client base" and the pandemic had accentuated the challenges.

The new model will mean that men who use the shelter will not be required to leave in the morning, and will be offered further support "so that in fact their live circumstances can be changed for the better".

Wellington City Missioner Murray Edridge and the Mission's Community Programmes Manager Olivia Lange.

Wellington City Missioner Murray Edridge, left, says the Covid-19 pandemic has accentuatedthe challenges facing homeless men in the capital. (file pic) Photo: RNZ / Meriana Johnsen

Edridge said the street living community were able to be housed during the lockdown and it's brought an opportunity to create a permanent capacity for transitional housing.

He said they are 'working with local and central government to change a temporary provision of services into a more permanent one".

Edridge said people were grateful and delighted to have been housed in decent accommodation during the lockdown and "to not have a homeless population would be wonderful".

Sixteen jobs have been lost in the transition and Kennedy Good said the trust had been supporting the staff to help them find new employment in the sector, with the City Mission agreeing to interview former shelter workers when future roles open up.

Edridge said nothing has changed for the men who live in the Wellington Night Shelter building on Taranaki Street and emergency accommodation will still be available.

The service remains funded by the Wellington City Council and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.

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