The Foyer project will house up to 98 people aged between 16 and 25, including 24 young parents and their children, at the Central Institute of Technology campus on Oxford Street.
Wembley Police Senior Sergeant Jade Smith said many of the young people previously had had only negative interactions with police.
‘It will provide an opportunity for police to interact with these young people in a positive fashion,’ he said.
‘We are looking at starting up wheelchair basketball tournaments and other sports so that the young people can get to know police on a social level.’
Sen Sgt Smith said officers would also speak to residents about assaults, domestic violence, and other common crimes young people either witness or are affected by.
‘We are hoping all the engagement we have will be positive,’ he said.
‘But if we do have to go there for a negative reason then we want the same officers attending so that the young people and officers know each other.’
Foyer manager Jethro Sercombe said engagement with police and the broader community was critical to the success of the project.
‘Foyer Oxford is lucky to be a part of a community like Leederville, and it is important to us that the project is a connected part of the local area,’ he said.
‘Young people are often victims of crime, so it is important that they have positive relationships with local police, so that if they are ever in danger, they have someone they can trust to go to. And while we do not envisage more problems than your average student accommodation, a good relationship with police means that if there are any issues, we can respond quickly and appropriately.’
Mr Sercombe said there was a concern that young people would be unfairly criticised for any anti social behaviour or petty crimes committed in the suburb, and Sgt Smith shares that concern.
‘Most of the residents are genuine kids who want to make a fresh start and get back into education,’ Sgt Smith said.
‘Our concern is that if crime escalates in the area the young people will be blamed, even when they are not responsible.
‘But Leederville is the perfect environment because it is an up and coming area and people are already very accepting of young people who are already drawn to the area as it is an entertainment precinct and the Tafe is already there.’
Mr Sercombe said the broader community was being engaged in the project.
‘Once we open, we will also have opportunities for locals to check the building out, meet some residents and speak to staff about how Foyer Oxford works. Once people meet our residents, they often say ‘I don’t know what I was worried about’.’
Foyer fact box
– Provides young people with fully self contained transitional
housing for up to two years, combined with social support and
opportunities to access employment, education and training.
– The four storey building will include 24-hour staffing and security,
as well as a cafe and retail space.
– The project has been running a small scale ‘Interim Foyer’ in Mt
Lawley since September 2011. The majority of young people involved
in that program have engaged in education, employment
or training and 75 per cent have left into long term, positive accommodation.