Whanganui Homeless Hub: Finding a solution for the homeless situation – video

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The Whanganui Homeless Hub located at Anzac Parade freedom camping site permits those who are less fortunate to be looked after and work on their needs with support available at the site.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a significant problem for those in desperate need of help. Rising costs of rent and food have been one of the most prominent issues.

During the lockdown, a tent and popup caravan was set up at the freedom camping site, allowing the homeless community to use it as an emergency overnight shelter or advocacy and support service to ensure they are supported in a safe space.

Source: CC/ Sam Hudson

The Homeless Hub formed by The Koha Shed charity organisation volunteers after Whanganui District Council closed down all public toilets in the area during Alert Level 4 Covid-19 settings.

The toilets on Anzac Parade were opened up after some convincing, allowing the homeless to use them. Showers have also been opened at the Girl's College three days a week.

Homeless can pop into the Homeless Hub to have a hot coffee and charge their phones.

Source: CC/ Sam Hudson

Sherron Sunnex, founder and manager of charity organisation The Koha Shed, runs the Whanganui Homeless Hub in hopes to find a solution to the growing homeless situation in the area.

“We've had six people through here since lockdown. We still have people living in their cars, a lot of them have pets so a big hindrance to accommodation is the fact they have pets, but they are their family, life and purpose. They would rather be in their cars than lose their pets,” Ms Sunnex says.

“There's a lot of people that come here between twenty-four to sixteen vehicles are here at any one time — a lot come at night, leaving in the morning.”

“A lot look for wifi so they will drive their car to find some spots so they can get on the net, but we're looking at getting it.”

Source: CC/ Sam Hudson

Many homeless want to live in their campervans without fear of being moved on despite Covid-19 Alert Level settings.

The site is there to temporarily look after the homeless and open doors to the light by finding solutions to common problems surrounding poverty or homelessness in the short term rather than the long term. Two days is not just enough time for certain conditions to find a new home due to the lack of housing.

The Council's proposed freedom camping regulation bylaw would limit freedom camping at sites making it illegal to stay for more than two nights per month.

Vehicles would be required to be self-contained and certified, that; “is designed and built for the purpose of camping, which is practically configured to meet the ablutionary and sanitary needs of the current number of occupants of that vehicle for a minimum of three days without requiring access to external services or discharge of waste.”

Kowhai Park on Anzac Parade, where the Homeless Hub is located, would only be allowed to have a maximum of ten vehicles at the site, and a two night limit for those staying per month before they have would have to be moved on under the bylaw.

Several other sites within the surrounding area would be considered under similar limitations.

Source: CC/ Facebook

There's been a few ideas about how to fix the homeless problem at the cost of up to three million dollars — minimum $1.2m as the cheapest option — to pay for a lodge that has a day centre and a night shelter. Other opportunities are lingering around about the decision.

An announcement was made on August 5 on their Facebook page (three days after filming this video) that they have decided to start fundraising to purchase a building and land setting up a permanent facility.

More information will be provided to thisquality after a meeting is held in the following week from this publication surrounding new developments.

Image: SUPPLIED/Sam Hudson

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