Lease end leaves many in limbo

YMCA Perth’s lease on Jewell House will be terminated on December 31, ending the not-for-profit organisation’s management of the 180-room facility, which primarily provides crisis accommodation for the homeless. The closure will also end the South Metropolitan Health Service’s arrangement with the YMCA to provide affordable accommodation to people on the Patients Assistance Travel Scheme (PATS).

Under the agreement, two floors of Jewell House were earmarked for PATS clients, who are regional patients requiring treatment such as dialysis and chemotherapy at Royal Perth Hospital.

A Department spokeswoman said the lease was terminated because the building was more than 40 years old and had reached the end of its useful life.

‘It is not currently possible to state with any certainty when and how the site will be redeveloped. This is part of the Royal Perth Hospital site master planning,’ she said.

WA Country Health Services are working with an aged care provider on options for country patients after the closure.

YMCA Perth chief executive Ross Kyrwood said because of the facility’s pending closure and with no financially viable alternatives available, it was also forced to close its Department of Child Protection (DCP) funded homeless youth program StreetSyde on March 31. The program received $106,970 in funding for 2013-14 and provides six beds at Jewell House for people aged 16 to 25 who are homeless or at risk of being so.

DCP acting director general Emma White said YMCA would provide case management support to the end of June and StreetSyde clients could use alternative accommodation such as the Foyer Oxford and the Salvation Army Beacon hostel.

Salvation Army spokesman Warren Palmer said it was a concern that options for basic and affordable accommodation in the CBD were potentially diminishing.

‘It is not only just for the homeless but low income earners that currently rely on backpackers facilities for permanent accommodation,’ Mr Palmer said.

Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi said closing Jewell House and cancelling StreetSyde could force more people onto the street as it was not known how and where those displaced would be accommodated.

‘As there is a growing need for this type of accommodation as well as affordable housing, it would be beneficial if this could be part of redevelopment plans,’ she said.