Frustrated Zempilas moves on homeless plan

• Lord mayor Basil Zempilas says the McGowan’s response to homelessness has been too slow, with rough sleeping numbers on the rise. 

FRUSTRATED by the McGowan’s government slow response to solving homelessness, Perth council is planning to open “pop up” accommodation for rough sleepers in carparks or vacant buildings.

Lord mayor Basil Zempilas moved the motion at Tuesday’s council meeting, noting the number of people sleeping rough in the city was up to 191 in March, rising from 126 in October 2020’s count.

“This simply cannot continue … it’s not fair to those people experiencing homelessness, and it is not fair to our city,” Mr Zempilas said.

“We have been very patient. Homelessness is a state government responsibility. While their housing first model is to be commended and the Common Ground facility offers hope, the reality is that facility is still three years away.”

He noted a McGowan election promise of an interim 100-bed facility at the YMCA backpackers, but “the lease on that facility, which offered hope, did not exist. And still we wait for the state government to propose and establish an interim facility.

“Winter is coming, the time for procrastination is over.”

The pop up accommodation model is based on Brisbane’s “Beddown” project that’s been running since 2019. Service providers are on site for security and to help with showers, health, and periodic services like haircuts or clothing help. 

Mr Zempilas said “to those who criticise or are inclined to criticise this model of a safe night time space, just remember the alternative for these people: If we don’t put them in a safe space, out of the rain, out of the cold, and out of danger, with a roof over their head, they will be sleeping out in the open. Which is the better of those two options?”

The motion was carried unanimously and preferred locations and a service delivery model will now be drawn up.

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