Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan has continued efforts in solving the State’s homelessness crisis with an announcement of a new 100-bed homelessness accommodation facility based in Perth.
As part of the McGowan Government’s election promises, the facility will only come to fruition if the Labor Government gets re-elected.
According to the Premier’s announcement, the Wellington Street facility will “provide immediate transitional and crisis accommodation for 100 rough sleepers”.
This comes in the wake of the recent ‘Tent City’ in Fremantle which saw drastic action taken by the State Government in sending police in to dismantle the camp.
Since Tent City, the Labor Government has had multiple announcements of homelessness initiatives, including last week’s granting of $6.8 million to an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) consortium to deliver the Moorditj Mia program which provides for accommodation and wraparound services to rough sleepers.
The new Perth-based centre will be leased temporarily whilst the State Government’s long-term projects are worked on.
The McGowan Government plans to fund the initiative through redirecting the funding previously flagged for the now-defunct Lord Street bridge camp.
With the redirection of $3.8 million, the centre will provide intervention for residents in partnership with an ACCO to ensure all support that is needed is provided for.
Community Services Minister Simone McGurk said the “interim solution” of additional rough sleeper accommodation will help keep vulnerable community members safe while longer-term projects are being developed.
“Homelessness is complex, which is why the McGowan Government is investing in proven initiatives that we know will improve outcomes for vulnerable people and break the cycle of homelessness.”
Homelessness is becoming a hotly contested election issue, with both the Premier and Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup speaking frequently about how to deal with the ongoing State crisis.
Both parties have made election commitments to more beds and more money towards the issue, with the Liberals promising $57.5 million, and Labor promising $48.95 million, including $39.3 million to establish Perth’s first Aboriginal short-stay accommodation facility for Indigenous people travelling to Perth for medical, cultural, family or personal reasons.
In recent days it has come to light that the Labor Government does not hold the lease to the Wellington Street facility, and that it is set to be sold to another party this week who intend to refurbish and renovate the property.
The facility has been identified as 300 Wellington Street, which is a hostel currently owned and operated by YHA Australia.
Minister McGurk told The West Australian that the Department of Communities is considering a number of suitable facilities should the agreement for the Wellington Street property fall through.
NIT contacted Premier Mark McGowan for comment, however, received no response by time of publication.
By Aaron Bloch