HELPING OTHERS: Jason Loakes from Sheltered by Grace is determined to set up a homeless shelter in Maryborough.
HELPING OTHERS: Jason Loakes from Sheltered by Grace is determined to set up a homeless shelter in Maryborough.

FILLING GAPS: New homeless shelter in pipeline for Coast

A NEW shelter helping "fill the gaps" for Maryborough's homeless population could be on the way.

With help from the community, a Logan man is hoping to open a 12-bedroom homeless shelter in Maryborough that will cater for men and women aged 25 and over.

Jason Loakes from Sheltered by Grace set up a similar shelter in Logan, where homelessness has become a chronic problem.

Mr Loakes said he was chatting with new board members from Maryborough's PresCare organisation when the possibility of creating a homeless shelter in an unused building in the city was raised.

"We identified one in Maryborough that was just being used as a storage area," he said.

"We looked at the building and it looked perfect for a 12-bedroom shelter."

The building is located on six hectares on Neptune St.

Mr Loakes said the project had already been lodged with the Fraser Coast Regional Council and had development approval.

The next challenge will be raising the funds to convert the building into a functional shelter, which will include installing a kitchen and showers.

"It's not a huge job as far as renovations go," Mr Loakes said.

The building will cost about $30,000, but the team has another ambitious plan.

They are hoping to raise an additional $65,000 to employ a full-time social worker who will operate between Maryborough and Logan.

"We are focused on helping people with chronic mental health issues," Mr Loakes said.

"We're gap fillers, there are huge gaps or canyons in the system that people fall through.

"The oldest person we have looked after is 97."

Mr Loakes said much of the time, helping people address addiction, get back on medication and build a plan to get back on their feet were functions carried out at the shelter.

He said he felt the Fraser Coast was the perfect place for a shelter because there were so many not-for-profit community organisations already invested in helping those who had fallen on hard times.

"The Hervey Bay and Maryborough communities should be very proud of what they have," he said.

Mr Loakes said the service was aware that dozens of phone calls about housing were being made every day on the Fraser Coast.

He said there were additional concerns around accommodation because of compliance crackdowns at hotels in Maryborough's CBD.

The ongoing cost of the shelter would be covered by charging rent from those who use the refuge, he said.



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