A BACKPACKERS at 300 Murray Street will reopen soon as a 100-bed homeless shelter, five months after the McGowan government’s troubled election commitment.
Boorloo Bidee Mia will take in troubled rough sleepers and provide support services on site.
The shelter was announced in February in the shadow of the state election, with Labor’s presser stating $14.3m was ready to “immediately” house up to 100 rough sleepers at the YHA backpackers.
But the government didn’t have a secure lease and 300 Murray Street was on the market, leaving the Department of Communities scrambling to find an alternative location.
Now full circle, 300 Murray Street will be the location after all, and is scheduled to open next month.
Drug and alcohol support service Wungening Aboriginal Corporation has been contracted to manage the facility, along with Aboriginal housing group Noongar Mia Mia.
Boorloo Bidee Mia is Noongar for “Perth Pathway to Housing” and the facility will focus on being culturally-appropriate for Aboriginal people given their high rate of homelessness.
Wadjelas are welcome too. Labor’s state Perth MP John Carey says: “I’m really pleased this is commencing.
“This is an appropriate location. I know people often say ‘why are homeless services in the city?’
“Because it’s where people do congregate. That’s where there is activity, food, meeting places, it’s near transport, hospitals, so you do find that people who are sleeping rough tend to go to cities.
“Yes there was a delay… but I’m glad the leasing arrangements have been [resolved], because I do think this is a good location for this facility.
“In terms of potential conflicts with neighbours, it’s not near residential properties, so hopefully we don’t see conflicts.”
The shelter is an interim option intended to tide over some of the city’s rough sleepers, who number roughly 190 in the CBD according to Perth council’s most recent count in March.
The end game is still a ways off with the state government’s first Common Ground long-term support housing at the corner of Hill and Wellington Streets due to start construction this financial year.
Given the long wait and increasing homeless counts, Perth council’s now opened two interim safe night spaces, one for women at the Rod Evans Centre and the newly opened men’s space at Citiplace near the Perth train station.
They are hangout spaces with couches and laundries but don’t have beds, as that requires extensive and expensive changes to meet building code standards.
by DAVID BELL