State puts $3.8m into finding homes for rough sleepers

Rough sleepers took their protest to the steps of Parliament in November: it looks like it paid off with $3.8 millionpromised to help them into accommodation.

AFTER more than a year of people sleeping rough at the Lord Street homeless camp the state government has pledged $3.8 million to get them into accommodation.

The two years’ worth of funds will see a partnership between the WA Department of Communities and an Indigenous organisation to ensure culturally appropriate and effective efforts.

It’s a contrast to the approach taken in April when City of Perth staff attended with WA police to issue move on notices and clear out another nearby camp, throwing out what clothes and other items people couldn’t carry with them. 

In recent months the department’s worked with other authorities and providers to come up with a coordinated plan to help the Lord Street campers and other nearby rough sleepers. So far 35 people have been put into short-term accommodation, 13 have been supported to return to country, and 18 referrals have been made for longer term accommodation at places like St Bart’s, the Beacon and Uniting WA. 

This funding will see the department and the successful Indigenous organisation (not yet announced) work with people to get them into temporary, crisis or transitional accommodation, and stick with them to offer support until they get into long term housing “as they become available”.

The state government’s first big “Common Ground” support and accommodation facility at the corner of Hill Street and Wellington Street is still a ways off, due to start construction until next financial year. 

Jesse Noakes from House the Homeless WA has been working with the Lord Street folk and issued a statement saying it’s a good start and that sustainable long term social housing needs to follow.

“This announcement from the government is an example of the power of people standing up for themselves and demanding what they need,” he said.

DAVID BELL

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