ONCE used as emergency accommodation for Perth’s homeless, Jewell House in the CBD is now derelict and riddled with squatters and graffiti.
With demand for short-term crisis accommodation becoming higher than ever, Terry Maller, a Perth council candidate and long-term advocate for the disadvantaged, says the state government should look at how much it would cost to reopen the former shelter on Goderich Street.
Mr Maller, who has managed various lodging houses for the needy and has lectured on affordable housing and homelessness, says he is “disturbed” to see so many homeless in the doorways in the central shopping precinct each morning.
He says local businesses are understandably fed up.
“Jewell House has 100 plus beds and there’s a crying need for them,” he says.
“Instead of finding only fault, perhaps Mr [John] Carey should look to solutions now that he is part of the state government.”
At the Perth City Summit last week, run by Perth Labor MP John Carey, homelessness was identified as the second most important issue for local residents and business owners.
Although raised as a major concern, Mr Carey said it was a complex issue that was difficult to address.
He says using vacant buildings for temporary shelters is a quick fix solution that may be too simplistic.
“The best way to go forward is to acknowledge the amount of work that’s already being done by the non-for-profits and collaborate with them to break the cycle,” Mr Carey says.
“A round table discussion is required to provide a rock foundation before we take any action.”
Jewell House was vacated three years ago after the health department terminated YMCA’s lease, with no plans to redevelop it.
A department spokeswoman says the lease was terminated because the building was more than 40 years old and had reached the end of its useful life.
The Australian Government’s White Paper on homelessness, The New Road, revealed that prevention and early intervention are the best solutions to reducing homelessness, suggesting crisis accommodation as a last resort.
They say that short term stays can be “disruptive” for tenants and “inefficient” for the government.
According to the WA Housing Hub 9600 people are homelessness in WA. On any given night 550 people doss down in crisis accommodation, with roughly 69 requests for assistance and shelter unmet.
by JAYDEN O’NEIL