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Department of Housing – Property Maintenance

Extract from Hansard: Thursday 14th October 2010

MS A.S. CARLES (Fremantle) [5.43 pm]: I rise to support this motion moved by the member for Willagee and briefly talk about the lack of affordable housing being a huge issue in my electorate of Fremantle. My office is absolutely inundated with inquiries from people trying to climb up the Homeswest waiting list. In fact, we have calculated that my electorate officer, who sits on the front line, dealing with this, is spending two-thirds of her working time dealing specifically with people desperate for housing assistance. They have nowhere else to turn; some face mental health issues and some are Indigenous Australians. There are entire Indigenous families—grandmothers, grandfathers, parents and little children—who have absolutely nowhere to live. I have seen my electorate officer sometimes spend hours in the afternoons trying to find short-term accommodation solutions for people. There is no Homeswest housing for them, and she will ring all the agencies around Perth trying to find accommodation for one or two nights; these people are just so grateful to have somewhere to go for one night, but then the problem is still there the next day and the next week. Only two weeks ago a woman came to my office with her three children and sat on the floor and wept. She sat there for three hours until we could find someone who could accommodate her that night. She wept again when we actually found a room for her; they agreed to take her family for about three nights.

In my electorate of Fremantle, several hundred people are living rough on the streets every night. I do not know whether the minister is aware of this, but my local charities have told me that these are the statistics—several hundred people. These people are living under bridges and sleeping in cars in the beach car parks from South Beach to Port Coogee, and they are also living in tents down there. I walk along that strip some mornings and I have seen the tents for myself.

There is also the issue of failing to maintain the old heritage houses Homeswest owns in Fremantle. I have written to the minister about the unsafe heritage houses near the Fremantle markets along Henderson Street. Constituents have alerted me to the fact that the old verandahs are accidents waiting to happen. I ask the minister when maintenance will take place on those homes so that we are not looking at a serious accident some day soon.

However, if the minister hears anything from me today, it is about homelessness. The fact that we have people sleeping under bridges and along the beaches in a wealthy state like Western Australia is absolutely astounding.

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