The State Government is doing a good job of trying to find permanent housing solutions for those sleeping rough - the problem is where do they go while they wait, and the great places like St Bart’s and The Beacon are overflowing. If there are no beds there, people end up on our streets.
I will seek to establish an interim accommodation service which utilises the upper floors of city car parks between the hours of 7pm and 6am, as roll out accommodation.
I aim to adopt the approach or partner with Beddown, from Brisbane, to turn our carparks into safe places for people who are homeless to take refuge from the cold and the danger of sleeping rough. It works in Brisbane, it can work here.
The pop-up places will be interim and safe solution when the alternative otherwise is sleeping on the streets.
In addition, I will work with the State Government and offer leadership and open discussion to drive a firm, but fair, pathway towards safety and hope. Not just talk, real action because people who are homeless deserve better and our city deserves better.
On any one night, hundreds of people find themselves homeless in inner city Perth, with many of those sleeping rough on the streets of our city.
For people defined as chronically homeless (continuous homelessness for one year or more or four or more episodes of homelessness in the last three years where the combined length of time homeless is at least 12 months), they will be homeless for an average of 5.6 years and die at the average age of 48. Some 89% of these people will have mental health issues, 88% have substance issues, 73% have physical issues and 72% have all three.
These are confronting and shameful statistics and behind these numbers are the very real stories of people who have fallen through the cracks.
The reasons people find themselves homeless are complex and varied and, as such, the needs of each homeless person in our City are different. Clearly, there is no one policy or one initiative that can resolve all issues of homelessness in Perth, and the effort to support the diverse needs of homeless people requires coordination between all levels of government, community services, business and philanthropy, as well as the wider community.
The State Government and the homeless sector have committed to a 10-year strategy on homelessness (“All Paths Lead to a Home”), which incorporates the Housing First policy - providing housing as a priority, followed by treatment.
I will support the four key pillars, agreed by government and the leading organizations - Ruah, Shelta, Passages, and Handup - in this state.
1. A “Place Based” response:
Homelessness differs across the city. It is determined by circumstance, cause and solution. The City can only deal with what affects its rate payers and those who need support within its boundaries - its own place.
Any City response must be informed and governed by local needs, context and capacity.
2. Whole of Community Approach:
The City has a clear role in coordinating, collaborating, and co-designing flexible programs that address firstly, immediate needs of both ratepayers and the homeless, and secondly the appropriate long-term needs within its jurisdiction.
It has a specific role to bring together the City, the community services, not- for-profit sectors, business, ratepayers, the community, philanthropy, and other levels of Government to better design flexible accommodation options capable of delivering appropriate programs and services for the diverse needs of vulnerable people.
3. “No Wrong Door”:
I have spoken to almost a dozen different agencies that have some involvement or provide support to vulnerable people in the City. In support of the State Government we will help create what they describe as a “No Wrong Door” approach for those people who are homeless or, equally importantly, those who are at risk, to access help, regardless of which agency they approach. The City has an extensive on the ground workforce and networks that can assist in this regard.
4. Housing First:
The ultimate solution is the provision of permanent, appropriate accommodation for the vulnerable and “at-risk” in our community.
This is underpinning priority, but essentially is a State and, in certain circumstances, a Federal Government responsibility.
The City can however, play a key role in identifying land and assets that can create places that are inclusive and can support vulnerable people.
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