Cash for lives

• Mayor Brad Pettitt, St Pat’s CEO Micheal Piu, Kathleen Gregory of Foundation Housing, minister Simone McGurk, Debra Zanella of Ruah Community Services, Matthew McNeilly of Sirona Capital and Dylan Smith of Fremantle Foundation at the launch.

WA LABOR has launched a new programme “20 Lives, 20 Homes” to help the most vulnerable homeless people in Fremantle get off the streets.

Announced during Homelessness Week, “20 Lives, 20 Homes” is a two-year collaboration to home and provide 24hr support for 20 of the most vulnerable homeless in Freo.

The programme is based on the successful ’50 Lives, 50 Homes’,  which housed more than 147 people sleeping rough in Perth over three years.

Private sector

“20 Lives, 20 Homes” is jointly funded by the state government, Fremantle council and the private sector.

The state government will contribute $395,000 to trial a private rental subsidy that will give the homeless a new pathway to housing.

The program will tap into the private rental market, with properties to be leased and managed by community housing provider Foundation Housing.

Participants will be charged weekly rent, but it will be subsidised at a similar rate to social housing properties–25 per cent of household income.

Community service providers like Ruah and St Pat’s will provide outreach support.

St Pat’s CEO Michael Piu says Fremantle has the highest rate of homelessness in the south west metropolitan area, with 400 people sleeping rough every night.

Labor Fremantle MP Simone McGurk says domestic violence was the leading cause of female homelessness in WA, while mental health and substance abuse were catalysts for men.

Shelter WA CEO Amanda Hunt notes that about 63 people are sleeping rough every night in Fremantle.

“I’m excited about the action by the state government, providing very clear stepping stones to ending homelessness in WA,” she says.

The WA council of social service notes that “Most of the homeless in the Fremantle area are classed as invisible; those that are couch surfing and rarely roughing it on the streets every night.”

“While this funding will make sure community organisations like ours will keep our doors open, we also need to engage with alcohol, drug and family and domestic violence services that are wrap-around. At the moment they are quite disjointed.”

by TATIANA DALIN

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