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Shelter the Homeless Safely Now

Press Release: Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers, 22 July 2018

The Drop In Centre in Eruera Street needs urgent permission to also serve as an Over Night Shelter until other options are ready, according to the Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers Association, so that the homeless currently sleeping rough survive the winter.

“The Council needs to walk back its threats of $200,000 fines to Tiny Deane, for letting the homeless go to sleep, and accept that the building now exceeds minimum earthquake standards,” said ex-councillor Glenys Searancke, Chair of RDRR. “We implore Council to rule urgently that the building is as ‘safe as practicable’ to allow the owner access to complete the upstairs wiring of the electronic smoke and heat detection system and offer overnight shelter. From when the shelter opened seven weeks ago it had non-electronic smoke detectors and two security guards on duty all night, wide awake and able to respond to any emergency.”

The owner has reported that the Eruera Centre exceeds the government’s minimum earthquake standard of 34 per cent of the new building code, she said. An earthquake engineer has reported two measures of 38 and 40 per cent. Council has the discretion to provide emergency permission for the shelter to open, allow the upstairs to be wired for safety, and call up the homeless from Kuirau Park.

“We recognize the Council’s preference for 100 per cent ratings on all buildings, but no building is ever absolutely safe,” said Reynold Macpherson, RDRR’s Secretary. “We also recognise that letting people sleep in a building yet to meet the building code is very risky, even if the intent is to save lives. But we are now in reach of a temporary and compliant solution on a temporary lease that can bridge the gap and enable other promised solutions to be developed and opened up.”

He confirmed that he and others from the RDRR had participated in the homeless hikoi on 28 May, strongly supported Tiny Deane’s and the other Trust’s initiatives, and had been waiting patiently during the eight weeks since the hikoi for practicable solutions to be developed, as promised. But it had been the threat of a fine to Tiny, to force the closure of his operation without a humane alternative shelter for the homeless, that had galvanised the RDRR’s intervention.


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