Tackling Homelessness

May 2011:

Adele called for a Homeless shelter in Fremantle 10 years ago in Parliament: [Hansard, Carles 26 May 2011]

Another aspect of the dark side of the mining boom has been the problems it has brought to the housing sector,
with rental prices skyrocketing in the metropolitan area to the point where some people are simply being forced
onto the streets. They are literally being priced out of the property market.

I know this is the case because my office deals with many people desperately seeking accommodation for themselves and their children. I am not talking about the stereotypical homeless person with substance abuse issues or mental illness; I am talking about single parents with children who are forced to sleep in their cars.

I welcome the announcement of $5.4 million in the budget for the creation of a homeless shelter in Perth. As homelessness is such a big problem in my electorate, I urge the government to plan for a second homeless shelter in the electorate of Fremantle.

The impacts of homelessness in Fremantle have literally spilled out onto the streets recently, with antisocial behaviour by congregations of homeless people on the rise. Businesses are contacting my office, sending me photographs of homeless people sleeping in the doorways of their businesses. As it is getting colder, this is increasing as people are coming into the City of Fremantle seeking whatever shelter they can get. It is an absolute tragedy.

A homeless shelter for Fremantle would go a long way towards breaking this pattern of homelessness, despair, alcohol abuse and antisocial behaviour. I call on this government to seriously consider funding this proposal. A tiny fraction of the $442 million state budget surplus could be used to create a second homeless shelter near Fremantle which, with appropriate services, would greatly reduce the suffering of homeless people and contribute to a reduction in the antisocial behaviour that is becoming really prevalent on our streets.

October 2010:

Adele raising the desperate issue of Homelessness in Fremantle in Parliament: [Hansard, Carles 13 October 2010]

MS A.S. CARLES (Fremantle) [5.43 pm]: I rise to support this motion moved by the member for Willagee and to briefly talk about the lack of affordable housing being a huge issue in my electorate of Fremantle. My office is absolutely inundated with inquiries from people trying to climb up the Homeswest waiting list.

In fact, we have calculated that my electorate officer, who sits on the front line, dealing with this, is spending two-thirds of her working time dealing specifically with people desperate for housing assistance. They have nowhere else to turn; some face mental health issues and some are Indigenous Australians. There are entire Indigenous families— grandmothers, grandfathers, parents and little children—who have absolutely nowhere to live.

I have seen my electorate officer sometimes spend hours in the afternoons trying to find short-term accommodation solutions for people. There is no Homeswest housing for them, and she will ring all the agencies around Perth trying to find accommodation for one or two nights; these people are just so grateful to have somewhere to go for one night, but then the problem is still there the next day and the next week.

Only two weeks ago a woman came to my office with her three children and sat on the floor and wept. She sat there for three hours until we could find someone who could accommodate her that night. She wept again when we actually found a room for her; they agreed to take her family for about three nights.

In my electorate of Fremantle, several hundred people are living rough on the streets every night. I do not know whether the minister is aware of this, but my local charities have told me that these are the statistics—several hundred people. These people are living under bridges and sleeping in cars in the beach car parks from South Beach to Port Coogee, and they are also living in tents down there. I walk along that strip some mornings and I have seen the tents for myself.

There is also the issue of failing to maintain the old heritage houses Homeswest owns in Fremantle. I have written to the minister about the unsafe heritage houses near the Fremantle markets along Henderson Street. Constituents have alerted me to the fact that the old verandas are accidents waiting to happen. I ask the minister when maintenance will take place on those homes so that we are not looking at a serious accident some day soon.

However, if the minister hears anything from me today, it is about homelessness. The fact that we have people sleeping under bridges and along beaches in a wealthy state like Western Australia is absolutely astounding.