Demand grows for cheap housing

The 59-year-old moved into the Independent Living apartments at the Lime Street site last year.

She said she had been facing homelessness before moving into the social housing apartments, due to family breakdown, health issues and unaffordable rent.

‘I never thought I would be here,’ she said.

‘I came too close to being homeless. I would be living in a rented car if not here as that would cost about $200 a week which is what I could afford.’

St Bartholomew’s House chief executive Andrew Hogan said providing affordable accommodation for the ageing population needed to be a priority to ensure people were not forced into dire situations.

‘We are seeing more older people who are at-risk of homelessness and that is definitely a shift in the last one to two years,’ he said.

‘Perth is the fastest growing capital city and there are a lot of people coming here every week chasing the dollar and that puts pressure on every layer.’

He said the Lime Street premises, which houses 400 people each night, was almost at 100 per cent occupancy. People who can’t be accommodated are referred to other agencies or asked to come back the next day.

‘We could have filled this building 10 times over,’ he said.

‘There isn’t much affordable accommodation in the CBD.’

Mr Hogan said the organisation’s next project was to redevelop its former Brown Street premises in to a lodging house for older women.

The redevelopment also aims to include a long-term social and affordable housing project for singles, couples and families to cater for growing demand.

Mr Hogan said addressing the need for affordable housing and homeless services made economic sense.

‘The most expensive homeless services in Australia, when you get down to it, are hospital wards, emergency rooms, doctors waiting rooms, prisons, remand centres, police jail houses and detention centres,’ he said.

‘Those places cost a lot to run. It costs $70 per person per night to run services at St Bart’s.’