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Helping out . . . Shelter Project Trust chairman Jono Martin (right) and trustees Shardous Wynen (left) and Malu Williams have launched the project to get some more transitional housing in Timaru. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

by Greta Yeoman

Three Timaru residents are hoping to provide transitional housing for homeless South Canterbury residents by next winter.

The Shelter Project trust, led by Jono Martin, along with his wife, Malu Williams, and long-time friend Shardous Wynen, is aiming to establish a five-bedroom transitional housing scheme in Timaru by early next year.

Mr Martin, who has done a variety of charitable work in the past, including heading up the South Canterbury branch of the Child Cancer Foundation, said he had been thinking about the housing project “for quite a while”.

He had been inspired to do something to help Timaru’s homeless population after his father, the late John Martin, had spent nine months living in his van in 2014.

“My dad was homeless.”

Mr Martin said while he and other family members had offered his father a place to stay, his father, who died in May this year, was a “proud man”.

The team behind the scheme, which started up last month, was now working towards getting it registered as a charitable trust.

Once that step was achieved, the trust would begin applying for funding and grants, as well as looking for a building with about five bedrooms and shared cooking/living facilities that could be used for transitional housing, he said.

The Shelter Project hoped to provide transitional housing for people who would be considered homeless, both those sleeping on the street as well as others who were sleeping on couches in friends’ houses or in vehicles, he said.

The team did not want to put time limits on lengths of stay at the project’s facilities.

Instead people’s time in the transitional housing would be spent addressing the causes for their homelessness and eventually helping them back into permanent housing, while also giving them a place to live during this time.

For more information on the Shelter Project, visit www.shelterproject.org.nz or phone Jono on 027-810-4562.