THE old Rod Evans Centre is in need of another $250,000 of unbudgeted repairs before it can become a ‘safe night space’ for women.
In December 2016 Perth council abruptly closed the Rod Evans centre, moving seniors services from the 160 Hay Street centre to Citiplace at the Perth train station with just a few days’ notice, and the vacant building has been deteriorating since.
Seniors were unhappy about being shifted to the smaller, cramped, less accessible space, and some told us they’d simply given up going. They held a peaceful protest outside the Rod Evans centre in April 2017, with council security guards called in to ensure it didn’t get rowdy.
At last October’s election some seniors lobbied candidates about moving the services back to Rod Evans because the new location wasn’t working, but they had no luck and the new council voted 7-1 in November to turn the centre into a Safe Night Space, with facilities for homeless women to rest and wash.
Leaving the centre empty for so long has come back to bite the council.
An original budget of $575,000 to refit the Rod has blown out by $250,000.
“Function tests carried out indicate a high proportion of plant and equipment is non-functioning requiring rectification or decommissioning and replacement,” a report says. “This is primary due to the lack of utilisation of the building over the past several years.
Since the centre closed, the cool room and freezer room units stopped working, the plumbing is pretty blocked, air-conditioners died, the hot water system carked it, the electrical switchboard is “non-compliant”, amongst a host of other breakdowns.
Along with the costly repairs it’ll cost the council $1 million a year to run it, with Ruah Community Services contracted as the main provider.
They council hoped for state government help but four months on have made no headway: “The City continues to advocate to state government to support operating funding,” a council report says.
The safe night space, the first of four planned, was originally due to open by “late January to late February”.
Closing the Rod Evans centre also turfed out the Dungeons & Dragons enthusiasts from the tabletop Gaming Guild Inc, who relocated to Bassendean.
by DAVID BELL