During Homelessness week, from August 4-10, UnitingCare West and Ruah have joined forces to trial a new initiative to tackle rough sleeping for homeless people.
According to the 2016 Census figures, around 1000 people sleep rough in Western Australia every night.
The idea of the project is to utilise abandoned buildings in the Perth metropolitan region to provide shelter for homeless people.
The project includes showers, toilets, a kitchen, lockers and couches for homeless people to be offered a warm, comfortable place to rest and recharge in a safe environment with dedicated support services.
A concerned community member, Shani Baker, said safe night spaces would be an integral part of improving the lifestyle for many of the homeless in Gosnells.
“We need an immediate short term plan in this area to alleviate this growing problem in our society today,” she said.
“With the safe night spaces we can help individuals transition and connect to other organisations that can break this cycle in the long term.”
She said qualified staff and security would be needed and that homelessness comes from a variety of issues.
However, she wants Gosnells to get behind the program and make it happen.
“Let’s not forget this could be you or a loved one,” she said.
The City of Gosnells said all families and individuals should have access to a safe, affordable and permanent home.
City of Gosnells Mayor Glenn Dewhurst said the city works closely with a range of specialist services to address the causes of homelessness, and to date has not received a proposal from any of these agencies to establish a ‘safe space’.
“The city will continue to work cooperatively with government and non-government agencies to end homelessness,” he said.
Mr Dewhurst also stated that the city does not have enough information about the proposal.
“However agencies such as UnitingCare have regular contact with homeless people and are well placed to develop appropriate responses to support the welfare and manage the safety of rough sleepers,” he said.
Ruah chief executive officer Debra Zanella said it was important to continue to innovate and improve the system to address rough sleeping in Perth.
“This is a first very practical step in relation to creating safe spaces that we can take to try and achieve real change for a growing issue in our city,” she said
“Homelessness week is the ideal time to demonstrate this model and to show how it could work.
“We hope it will lead toward a more permanent measure to help address what is a very complex issue.”