Heart is where the home is.

Shocked by the amount of people sleeping rough, Arrowtown’s New Orleans pub owners Kerry and Rob Andrews have slashed room rates for those in desperate need of a roof over their heads.

‘‘It came about when Rob and I were talking about how shocked we are there are so many people living in cars,’’ Kerry says.

‘‘It’s so cold, I don’t know how anyone can sleep in their car.’’

With things quiet until ski season snowballs, the couple are offering any of the 157-year-old pub’s unbooked nine guest rooms at cost price to those who can’t get accommodation.

‘‘It’s somewhere warm to reset, have a hot shower, sleep in a proper bed … and feel human again for a while at a rate that pretty much just covers our expenses.’’

For example, rooms that normally go for up to $190 a night are just $50 on the special rate, and they’re charging $300 for 10 nights.

They’ve had about 14 takers since it was first advertised at the start of May, for a variety of stays.

‘‘We’re not going to put a cap on it; if we have availability we will let people in.’’

Most who take up the New Orleans’ offer are out-of-town workers, including some of their own staffers, who currently occupy two double rooms, Kerry says.

‘‘We’re looking for staff at the moment, and I’m getting people contacting me outside of Arrowtown and Queenstown and I say, ‘get yourself some accommodation first’, because a job’s quite easy to find but accommodation is not.’’

Incredibly, the New Orleans often has more rooms than people to fill them at the cheap rate.

‘‘There are nights when we only have one booking, so there’s potentially six rooms on offer,’’ Kerry says.

She thinks some people in need are too proud to come forward and put their hand up for a room.

‘‘We feel good about helping people, we just wish we had more people coming to us, even if it was just for one night.’’

Pete grateful to swap freezing van for warm bed

Pete Heaney is grateful for the ‘‘amazing’’ opportunity to swap his freezing van for a room at Arrowtown’s New Orleans for the rest of this month.

Grateful: Pete Heaney was living in his freezing van until he took up the offer of a cut-price room at the New Orleans Hotel

Arriving from Motueka in early April to work on the skifields, Heaney’s been forced to live in his van for two months, until scoring a cheap room at the historic pub on King’s Birthday Monday.

The 35-year-old has dyspraxia, a condition that affects his speech and movement, for which he receives a small disability benefit, but is willing and able to work.

A room in a Queenstown share house he stayed in last winter fell through and he says it’s ‘‘nigh on impossible’’ to find a place to stay now.

‘‘You’re competing with hundreds of other people and you’re very lucky to even hear back.’’

He thought he’d secured another place for an advertised rate of $300 a week, but the landlord told him someone had offered to pay $400, so Heaney was priced out.

‘‘There’s a lot of bidding wars going on.’’

He’d been living in his van at Department of Conservation’s 12 Mile Delta camp for $75 a week, but that’s been ‘‘ hard and really cold’’.

‘‘My van is not the biggest … it’s more like a car, so has very limited space and living with all your belongings is quite hard.

‘‘It’s freezing — my water bottle actually froze one night, so I had nothing to drink for a while.

‘‘My mental health really suffered, especially on rainy days because I have no awning so was just stuck in the car.’’

But things have improved for Heaney since moving into the New Orleans, which he heard about through the Queenstown Housing Initiative.

‘‘It’s been amazing and given me a chance to thaw out, basically,’’ he says.

‘‘To have more space and small luxuries like hot water coming out of the tap, a flushing toilet and a hot shower and be warm at night, not breathing in the cold air.

‘‘It just means the world to me and I can’t thank [New Orleans owners] Kerry and Rob [Andrews] enough.’’

Heaney hoped to have a job lined up as traffic control on a local skifield, starting lastweek — the Andrews have shuffled bookings around to guarantee him a room at the inn until the end of June.

He thinks he’s secured a place to stay from July, but isn’t count ing his chickens just yet.

‘‘Knowing my luck that place will fall through.’’

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