Covid delays city’s safe spaces tender

AS a snap Covid lockdown exacerbates problems for Perth’s homeless people, it’s also delayed the awarding of a tender for Perth council’s Safe Night Spaces for women.

The council’s first SNS was intended to provide overnight shelter for women at Hay Street’s Rod Evans Centre. The project has a $575,000 budget for refitting the centre and was meant to be operational by “late January to late February”.

Commitment

But while councillors were due to accept a tender from Ruah Community Services on February 2 to run the space, Council House has been closed since 6pm Sunday and the meeting postponed. 

On top of the delay, the council’s yet to get any commitment from the state government to help cover the costs. It was hoping for $4.5m of state money for the Rod Evans centre and three potential future spaces (an all-genders space at 18 Stirling Street, and then down the track a youth space and a culturally-specialised space for Aboriginal people). The Hay Street space will cost about $1m a year to run.

When councillors endorsed the plan last November lord mayor Basil Zempilas said if the state government didn’t come through, the city could still afford to fund it for at least the first year. 

The special council meeting report says “the City continues to advocate to State Government to support operating funding of the two Safe Night Spaces in future financial years”. 

The safe night spaces don’t provide beds; just couches, a kitchen, laundry, toilets, a tv area and a quiet space. 

The lack of beds led to the plan being criticised by the House the Homeless WA group involved in the now-disbanded tent cities, with the group arguing it would be cheaper for the state to rent out an empty backpackers.

by DAVID BELL

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