The converted YHA Hostel in the Perth CBD will open its doors to people experiencing homelessness for the first time on Monday as it begins a new chapter as a transitional accommodation hub.
After a false start in February ahead of the election – when the McGowan Government announced it had secured a lease for the Wellington Street property despite no such agreement being in place – Community Services Minister Simone McGurk officially opened “Boorloo Bidee Mia” this morning.
The new facility has been designed to accept up to 100 rough sleepers, providing residents both a place to stay and individually tailored support services with the eventual goal of placing them into long-term accommodation.
Boorloo Bidee Mia, which means “Perth pathway to housing” in the Whadjuk dialect, is being operated by Wungening Aboriginal Corporation and Noongar Mia Mia with the agencies awarded a $6.7 million grant to manage the facility for three years.
Wungening Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Daniel Morrison said unlike two CBD shelters opened by the City of Perth recently, one each for men and women, Boorloo Bidee Mia was “not a crisis service”.
“It provides a home and a community to people we welcome through our doors, offering a pathway to longer term accommodation,” Mr Morrison said.
“Our view is healing starts with providing a safe place to sleep. We know once people have a place to stay, they are much more likely to engage in other support services.”
Services on offer include specialists in tenancy, daily life skills, Aboriginal culture, alcohol and drug recovery, primary health care, mental health support and legal aid.
Boorloo Bidee Mia will accept both male and female adults – Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal – and has rooms suitable for both singles and couples.
Ms McGurk said the facility’s intake would be “phased in” with around 35 people housed initially and the number of residents then determined by the availability of support services.
“If it’s working well, we’ll be able to gear up quite quickly,” Ms McGurk said.
“You can imagine some of the people coming into this facility have got complex needs and so we don’t want to set them, and the facility, up to fail by overloading the system too quickly.”
Separately, the McGowan Government has also announced two Common Ground facilities – one in East Perth and the other in Mandurah – that will comprise self-contained apartments providing permanent accommodation for residents.
Each of those facilities will also be supplemented by a range of support services to help residents maintain their tenancy.