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WA government buys Perth hotel to help house rough sleepers

Giovanni Torre -

Western Australia's Homelessness Minister John Carey has announced a former hotel on Murray Street, West Perth, will be transformed into supported accommodation for people sleeping rough in the Perth CBD.

The building at 718 Murray Street, operating until recently as the Murray Hotel, has been purchased by the WA government for $5.15 million and will be leased to a community housing organisation to provide supported accommodation some of the most vulnerable members of the state's community.

The Ending Homelessness in WA 2022 report, compiled by the University of WA Centre for Social Impact and released last August, found a significant over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in WA's homeless population.

Centre for Social Impact director Paul Flatau noted on the release of the report that while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up 3.1 per cent of the general population of WA, Indigenous people are 29.1 per cent of the homeless population in the Census.

"Aboriginal people make up an even higher proportion of those receiving support from homeless services," he said.

The new service in West Perth announced Thursday will provide 30 rooms for rough sleepers and will mainly accommodate singles, and up to two to three couples, as part of a Housing First supported accommodation model.

The state government hailed the acquisition of the Murray Street site as a "major boost" to their homelessness reforms, which include $20.7 million announced in late 2022 to provide 100 homes for rough sleepers.

Also on Thursday WA's Department of Communities opened the tender process to appoint a community housing organisation to provide supported accommodation services at the Murray Street site. The chosen proponent will also work with existing Housing First Service Providers to provide individualised case management and support.

The new facility will complement already operating accommodation in the Perth CBD including Boorloo Bidee Mia in Wellington Street and Koort Boodja in Northbridge.

Boorloo Bidee Mia, as of December, is operating at 92 per cent occupancy and providing intensive support to some of Perth's most vulnerable rough sleepers as they transition out of homelessness into long-term accommodation.

Western Australia has a 10-year strategy to tackle homelessness, which commenced in 2020.

In December the state government announced it would establish the $2.2 million Country Connect service, to reduce rough sleeping during medical treatment for people travelling to Perth from the regions.

Mr Carey said the government has a "clear focus" to assist people sleeping rough and give them access to appropriate accommodation and "wrap-around supports" to enable them to transition into long-term housing options.

"Our government is focused on delivering a Housing First approach that is evidence-based and provides tangible long-term outcomes," he said.

"This is another major step forward in services for people experiencing homelessness in the Perth CBD and is all part of this government's $2.4 billion investment over four years to improve the quality and accessibility of social housing and homelessness measures across the state."


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