Collaborating for the homeless

Collaboration between the state government, community groups and the private sector is set to effectively combat homelessness in Fremantle, according to a policy expert.

The 20 Lives 20 Homes program was launched by the McGowan government on August 5 this year, and aims to give people who are sleeping rough a stable home, via subsided rent packages.

The WA government will provide $395,000, with a further $1 million raised by the City of Fremantle, and the private sector.

Freo leads the South West Metro for homeless rates. Photo: Tom Robinson.

In a statement, St Patrick’s Community Support Centre chief executive Michael Piu says giving people a stable home is the first step towards providing ongoing support, which they will help provide.

He says nearly 400 people are known to be homeless, or at risk of homelessness in Fremantle, but the exact number could be much higher.

He says the collaboration between the government, as well as the private and non-profit sectors is vital to ensuring the program is a success.

He says the centre has already added members to its staff who are working on the initiative, and will begin housing the first clients soon.

St Pats will provide community support. Photo: St Patrick’s.

Murdoch University senior lecturer in global politics and policy Ian Cook says getting experts working in the field is an effective way to reduce homelessness rates.

He says utilising non-government organisations and community groups is a better policy for a government to adopt than simply throwing money at a problem.

“Getting feedback, getting people on the ground who live with the problem in a much more ongoing way … that’s good governance in my view, that’s what governments should be doing.”

The program is a version of 50 Lives 50 Homes, a similar program focused in the CBD.

Dr Cook says copying a policy from another area of Perth may cause difficulties in adapting it to Fremantle, but it is an essential part of learning what initiatives work.

“Policy learning is an important part of government … you’d hope there’s an awareness of the fact that it’s being done in Fremantle, not in Perth … but on the other side, government’s learning from other initiatives … I think that’s a good thing.”

Listen to the full interview with Dr Ian Cook here.