The common touch

A “COMMON GROUND” centre to give homeless people a semi-permanent roof over their head is to be set up in Perth.

The innovative new housing model links accommodation that’s available until the client no longer needs it with support services to address the root causes of their homelessness.

Support

Perth Labor MLA John Carey says the centre will be the first in Perth to target chronic homelessness and rough sleepers.

“It’s not just about providing accommodation; it’s about providing wraparound, intensive support 24 hours a day,” Mr Carey said.

He says people often suggest opening up carparks or empty offices for homeless people, but because many have issues like alcoholism, drug dependance or mental health problems, they can’t just be left to sleep in an unsupported building.

Shortlisted

The centre will be one of two constructed in the metropolitan area over the next three years. A shortlist of locations isn’t hammered out yet and Mr Carey says they’ll be cautious about where it goes.

“The City of Perth has been looking at locations, but of course there’s got to be consultation,” said.

Announced at Foyer Oxford – an at-risk youth centre that’s not had a peep of trouble since being launched – the centre is modelled on eastern states examples.

“These common ground facilities in other states are in very central locations, you wouldn’t know they’re there,” Mr Carey says.

The McGowan government also announced a $1.7 million expansion of East Perth’s Tranby House this week.

UnitingCare West runs the Aberdeen Street centre and in October the state government paid for it to extend its daily opening hours until 7pm.

This week’s funding will pay for upgrades to cope with the extra demand, including a fit-out of spaces for financial counselling and family support.

Premier Mark McGowan said the extra funding helps providers like UnitingCare West continue to deliver immediate, on-the-ground assistance.

“UnitingCare West is at the coalface of supporting rough sleepers and those in financial crisis across Perth, and I commend the work they do,” he said.

When Perth council was looking at a “designated site” for homeless service providers, a carpark near Tranby was one of the shortlisted options.

But it was shot down by nearby businesses who complained of problems linked to homeless people.

by DAVID BELL

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