A RULE preventing homeless people from getting bond assistance if they’re moving into a shared house is a literal killer, says Cockburn lodging house caretaker Dave Shannon.
Mr Shannon, who lives at Spearwood House on Rockingham Road but keeps an eye over several Urban Fabric lodging houses in the area, recently wrote to new premier Mark McGowan urging him to overturn the rule and says he knows from bitter experience why it has to go.
Mr Shannon was rostered on at the company’s Healy Road facility in July last year when 48-year-old Ian ‘Spike’ Wilson approached him about a room. Mr Wilson was homelessness, but it was winter and he was desperate to get off the streets.
Without a home, Mr Wilson couldn’t find work and there wasn’t enough money left from his dole each week to build up a bond, so the pair contacted Homeswest about assistance.
But the request was denied because of the department’s rule against single rooms, while Urban Fabric had its own rules about a security deposit.
“He was really upset – not angry or anything like that – but he really wanted to try and get his life back on track and this was a real setback,” says Mr Shannon.
“So he left and said ‘I’ll go back on the street for the night’.”
But as Mr Wilson sheltered under a blanket in the doorway of the Metrochurch in Perth, he was bashed to death with a claw hammer by psychopathic thrill killer Daniel James Cohen, who told police he thought he was putting the homeless man out of his misery. Cohen tried to kill another homeless man with an axe the following night but the man survived and he was arrested by police.
“I’m an ex-serviceman and the CEO of a motorbike fundraising club, so not much gets to me, but that upsets me like you wouldn’t believe,” Mr Shannon says.
He believes the government could save thousands in the long run if it reversed the rule.
“If rental bond and other assistance was provided we would have far less homeless and once these people are secure in the knowledge that they actually have somewhere to call home they would seek gainful employment and become less dependent on welfare.”
Mr Shannon says there are also huge policing and health costs associated with having people on the streets. Even if they were doing nothing wrong, police were obliged to attend every time there was a complaint.
Since Mr Wilson’s murder, Urban Fabric has introduced a scheme that allows tenants to pay off their security deposit by quarantining a part of their dole, but Mr Shannon says it’s unfair that the private sector is being “hold the bag, so to speak”.
by STEVE GRANT