Rough winter

• Connie Kelly, Eileen Jones, Brendan Jones and Paula Platts are back seeking shelter on Beaufort Street’s footpath. Photo by Steve Grant

Too scared to pitch a tent

THE Department of Communities says it has reached the “due diligence” stage of securing a new crisis shelter for Perth’s rough sleepers.

It comes as around a dozen homeless people, some former residents of Lord Street’s “tent city”, have returned to the Beaufort Street footpath opposite Weld Square to seek shelter from the winter rains.

But Noongar woman Eileen Jones said they were so fearful of police reacting badly to the sight of tents, they had been trying to make do with nothing more than a couple of tarpaulins to keep out the wind and rain.

The tarpaulins weren’t much chop, Ms Jones said, while a complaint from neighbours about blocking the footpath had already seen a couple confiscated by council rangers.

Ms Jones said after Tent City she’d been put up in a hotel funded by Wungening Aboriginal Corporation and Uniting WA, but when the money ran dry she was shown the front door without any support.

Now she tries to fill the days with fellow campers like Brendan Jones by doing artworks and simply trying to survive.

Mr Jones said with theft rife on the streets, he no longer had a phone and it was virtually impossible to keep track of appointments and communicate with support services.

He has a heart condition and says living on the streets makes him fearful for his longterm health.

“Where’s this hostel they promised us,” he says with obvious frustration.

Communities executive Lindsay Hale said they’re working on it.

“Once a site is secured, the $3.8 million for the Lord Street bridge homelessness prevention will be directed to providing support services at the facility, in partnership with an Aboriginal community controlled organisation.

The department said that along with support organisations it had helped get 41 people from the East Perth and Fremantle tent cities into long-term accommodation. A further eight people were helped return to country.

“Through Communities’ response, ongoing support is also offered to individuals who are no longer occupying hotel accommodation and case management is continuing for those willing to engage,” Mr Hale said.

St Patrick’s Community Support Centre in Fremantle is heading a consortium that’s been given $2.3 million for wraparound supports for the Tent City residents. Mr Hale says about 40 people are “actively being supported through this process”.

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