A NEW 100-bed homeless facility in Perth remains near empty a month after opening.
Boorloo Bidee Mia opened on August 9 but is at less than 20 per cent of capacity, and despite a ministerial press release stating “all vulnerable rough sleepers are eligible”, one homeless advocate has found that’s not been the case.
National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project director Megan Krakouer told the Voice she’d taken a client who’d been released from prison last week to BBM because there was a day’s lag before his secured accommodation was available. Being from Roebourne he had no nearby family to call on.
“The response was ‘we only take referrals from the Heart program for people from Freo’s tent city’,” Ms Krakouer said.
That’s left Ms Krakouer seething; she says it’s perverse the McGowan government went out of its way to dissuade people from going to tent city, but now they were getting preferential treatment.
“They are discriminating against the people who were living on the street.”
The Department of Communities said a sudden influx of people would lead to anti-social behaviour and therefore centre operator Wungening Aboriginal Corporation could not accept everyone.
Wungening CEO Daniel Morrison said Boorloo Bidee Mia was the first step towards healing, as once people had a place to stay, they were much more likely to engage with service supports.
“Boorloo Bidee Mia is not a crisis service or shelter, instead it provides a community to people with the intent of offering a pathway to longer term accommodation,” he said.
But a secure home remains out of reach for many, with 17,000 households currently on the Homeswest’s waiting list – 2,000 of them on the priority list.
In response to this the McGowan Labor government last week announced a $2.1 billion investment to boost social housing in Western Australia, saying it would provide an additional 3,300 new homes.
But Ms Krakouer says that will still leave them short of tackling the wait list, and doesn’t take into account people leaving prison who aren’t on the wait list, or those homeless people who couldn’t get on there because they couldn’t afford to reproduce identification documents.
Former homeless Perth resident Jye Maher said the Labor government was not doing enough.
“The government has recently demolished over 1,000 social houses across Perth; they cannot honestly claim that they care about getting homeless people off of our streets” he said.
The current social housing wait time in Perth sits at a record high of 100 weeks.
by SASCHA COX and STEVE GRANT