Joondalup and Wanneroo councils move to help local homeless

WANNEROO and Joondalup are continuing talks with providers of services to the homeless and soon those “living the experience” to better understand the issues facing people sleeping rough in Perth’s north.

Councillors were updated on the progress of the cities’ joint investigation into the growing problem at Wanneroo’s September 15 meeting.

It followed support of a March request for a report on homelessness in the region as well as provision of a drop-in centre.

Data collected revealed about 36 “rough sleepers” and 66 “at risk of eviction and homelessness” had been reported in the three months from May to July.

“While it is difficult to provide exact figures for homelessness in the north-western corridor due to its transitory nature, there are an increasing number of reports of people at risk or experiencing homelessness in the area,” the report said.

On August 20, the cities consulted agencies and service providers about the role local government could play in reducing incidences of homelessness.

Hosting community connect sessions for the homeless to access information and care and providing a drop-in centre were two concepts discussed.

The report said one challenge for the centre was the location because of the region’s size. A mobile operation was proposed, an idea the report said needed to be developed.

Wanneroo is now preparing a community meeting to hear from local homeless to understand issues they experience.

Mayor Tracey Roberts said the report, while just one step, was heartening and the intent was definitely there. “It’s a positive move forward,” she said.

“And I have to say, the overwhelming support of the local community in relation to people who are doing it really tough is heart-warming.

“We currently have families living in cars who have found themselves in a situation where their house has been taken from them, the bank has foreclosed on mortgages, and they’re living in their cars and still trying to get their children to school to try to keep their children in as big of a routine as they possibly can.”

Deputy Mayor Dot Newton congratulated City staff for taking part in a course on understanding homelessness.

“I find it distressing when you see the numbers involved and I don’t like the idea of families, particularly children, doing it tough,” she said.

Wanneroo has contributed to the research project commissioned by Joondalup, which will provide direction for the cities moving forward.

The allocation of a joint resource and provision of facilities and funds will be informed by the final research report and presented to the council at a later date.