City of Swan focus on causes, planning for homeless

City of Swan chief executive Mike Foley has stood by council amid claims of bullying and dysfunction.
City of Swan focus on causes, planning for homeless
City of Swan chief executive Mike Foley has stood by council amid claims of bullying and dysfunction.

CITY of Swan chief executive Mike Foley said while it was generally not its primary responsibility to provide direct services to assist the homeless, the City had an interest in preventing, reducing and managing homelessness.

“We work closely with local service providers in alleviating some of the causal factors,” Mr Foley said.

“We also ensure planning decisions facilitate affordable housing options and offer inclusive access to City facilities and open spaces.

“At present we are awaiting the results of the most recent Census to assess the current data relating to homelessness.”

Mr Foley said it was important to recognise that homelessness was much broader than just people on the street.

MORE: ‘Practically no facilities for homeless’ in Midland says Indigo Junction boss

The ABS categorises homeless people into six groups: rough sleepers; supported accommodation for the homeless; temporary accommodation with other households including friends and family; boarding houses; other temporary lodgings; and severely overcrowded accommodation.

The City considers all these scenarios, he said.

Planning systems support more affordable housing, while an Urban Housing Strategy aims to provide more flexible housing options in existing residential areas.

“This strategy includes incentives to provide single-bedroom homes for aged dependent persons and special needs housing.”

Without these options, the issues of homelessness are exacerbated, Mr Foley said.

“A new Midland Youth Hub in the City of Swan will have shower facilities for homeless youth,” he said.

MORE: The face of homelessness in Midland

Indigo Junction has an emphasis on assisting Aboriginal people and helping them to find accommodation and support.

It has 36 staff, 10 volunteers and a board which oversees its work.

“Indigo Junction tries to assist homeless people with support to assist them to change things so they can grow their skills, enable them to turn their lives around, and live a less traumatic and stressful existence,” chief executive Don Tunnicliffe said.

Project director at the Community Housing Industry Association in WA, Barry Doyle, said demand for social housing was at crisis level.

“This will rise further as the population grows and ages,” he said.

“There are 864 fewer properties in the public housing system now than in 2011, which is a stunning indictment of State Affordable Housing Strategy.

“What needs to happen urgently is the development of a comprehensive social housing growth strategy, harnessing the ability of the community housing sector, to produce extra social and affordable rental stock, if there is to be any meaningful reduction in waitlist numbers and wait times.”