Habitat quits Grand contract

    Habitat for Humanity Invercargill general manager Paul Searancke announced the organisation had pulled out of its agreement with The Grand hotel owner Murray Baird on Tuesday. Photo: Abbey Palmer

    AFTER less than a year of managing The Grand accommodation in central Invercargill, Habitat for Humanity has pulled the plug on its contract with Strathvale Investments Ltd.

    This year, the organisation had been managing the city centre accommodation and ensuring people in need, some who required emergency housing, had a place to stay.

    Habitat for Humanity Invercargill general manager Paul Searancke yesterday confirmed the organisation had ended its agreement with Strathvale Investments owner Murray Baird on Monday at 5pm.

    “We were unable to reconcile some contractual arrangements so we chose to leave,” he said.

    In the past 10 months, about 4500 nights of accommodation had been provided to people who had nowhere else to go, he said.

    Many of those now had sustainable accommodation and had been given the support to get back on their feet. Habitat for Humanity staff broke the news to residents last week and “there were a few tears shed”.

    “The number of people who thanked us for helping them get settled was quite gratifying really.”

    An entirely self-funded organisation, Habitat for Humanity helped house Southland’s most vulnerable people from family harm survivors to those living with mental illness.

    While more than 30 rooms were still being used by those placed by Habitat for Humanity, the organisation had not removed any residents from the property when it opted out of the contract, he said.

    In order to ensure the safety of the residents, Mr Searancke and his team implemented major safety measures in the hotel after taking over the management, from security cameras to access keys and monitoring those coming in and out of the building.

    Rooms had also been upgraded with new paint jobs, beds and furniture, and shared facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms had also been renovated.

    Two staff members were onsite at all times, including overnight, to make sure residents were as safe and comfortable as possible.

    Mr Searancke said he was unsure if these procedures would remain in place now Habitat for Humanity was no longer involved with The Grand.

    Mr Baird, approached at his Rugby Park Dairy in Invercargill yesterday, said he was “working through things at this stage” regarding management of The Grand.

    When asked what security measures would be put in place to ensure the safety of the residents, he declined to comment.MysneakersTHE SNEAKER BULLETIN