Hostel hope

THE new owners of Hostel Milligan are reaching out to help former residents left homeless, after reading last week’s front-page Voice article “91 and left to sleep in a shed”.

The Murray Street hostel was bought by the Singapore-based Fragrance Group in 2014, and they’ll soon redevelop it into a 35-storey luxury hotel.

Hostel keeper and resident Tony Ransom was given notice in August that he had to be out by September 30.

In the final weeks Mr Ransom allowed some of the poorer residents to skip rent so they could save up some money to find a new place.

Mr Ransom and a 91-year-old resident were unable to find new accommodation, and they are now sleeping in a friend’s shed.

• Hostel Milligan keeper and resident Tony Ransom.

Despite the situation, Mr Ransom says the property management company Momentum Wealth has been repeatedly contacting him asking for the final month’s rent: $4,304 and 60 cents, with their latest reminder notice arriving on October 7. The Voice contacted Momentum Wealth to ask if they knew of Mr Ransom’s economic situation, but didn’t get a response, so we forwarded a copy of last week’s article to the Fragrance Group.

The next morning we got a call from the project’s architect Laurie Scanlan, who sounded sympathetic.

“We are certainly concerned with what we’re now being told by your story,” he says, saying he’ll meet with Mr Ransom and liaise with the bosses in Singapore to see what they can do for the men.

Mr Ransom said he has no criticism of Fragrance Group or their architects and other workers who’d been through the building in recent years.

He says he got to meet Fragrance Group’s founder, self-made billionaire Koh Wee Meng, when he came by for a tour of his newly purchased building, and he was impressed by how kind and down to earth the Singaporean businessman was.

Mr Ransom says when he was struggling to move a grease trap by himself, Mr Koh rolled up his sleeves, grabbed the other end, and helped him shift it.

He says if Mr Koh knew the situation he wouldn’t want the property managers to pursue the debt, saying it’s not “the Singaporean way”.

by DAVID BELL

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