Hotel stuck with $30,000 bill for homeless families

Hotel owner Eddie Kamil (front centre) and volunteers have been helping provide food for homeless people, but no one wants to foot the bill for their rooms.

A PERTH hotel has been left with an outstanding $30,000 bill after no one was willing to take responsibility for 11 homeless people who ended up in its rooms.

Perth City Apartment Hotel had been accommodating some former residents of East Perth’s Tent City, but manager Anthony Coll said after Fremantle’s version was dismantled on premier Mark McGowan’s order, another group turned up.

They included families with young children and three pregnant women – including one who gave birth earlier this week having spent last week’s lockdown on the streets.

Busload

“Somehow a busload of them came here… and I just chucked them in a room,” Mr Coll said.

The Wungening Aboriginal Corporation had been paying for the East Perth residents, but Mr Coll says the Department of Communities has told him that’s all he’ll get.

“They kept telling me ‘they’ve got nothing to do with us’.

“We’ve had to donate food out of our pockets to help these people.

“At the end of the day, the government said they are paying for the Tent City people – these are the Tent City people.

A Communities spokesperson told the Voice the 11 people were moved there by homeless advocate Jesse Noakes without government consultation. 

“Jesse had brokered that arrangement directly with the hotel, and had then said, ‘you can send the bill to Communities’,” the spokesperson said.

They deny the group had been Tent City residents.

Mr Noakes said it’s his job to get vulnerable people off the streets and into accommodation. 

“I have worked closely with this government for many months to develop immediate responses to homelessness that do just this,” he said. “Recently, despite my repeated attempts to maintain open communications, they have stopped taking my calls or responding to emails, of which there have been many. 

“If a WA small business has been left to foot the bill for the government’s anarchic approach to public accounts and announcements, that is not through a lack of effort on my part.” 

“The government is usually very eager to make vague, expansive announcements about future funding plans and extremely reluctant to foot the bill when it actually counts”.

One of the group of 11 said she felt like she was being “kept in the dark”.

“I’m going from place to place,” she said.  

She said she’s been receiving mixed messages from bureaucrats, who’ve told her she’s supposed to go on a priority list, but keep rejecting her appeals for accommodation.

by KELLY WARDEN

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