Fremantle Council has thrown its support behind a push to have WA’s second Common Ground facility established in Fremantle.
Common Ground is a proven model of long-term supported housing that was originally developed in the United States to provide housing and support services to people who are homeless.
In December 2019, the state government announced $35 million for the development of two Common Ground facilities in WA.
In July, Community Services Minster Simone McGurk announced Hill Street in East Perth as the location for the first facility, while the second facility would be in a regional or suburban location.
Last month the Department of Communities advised the City of Fremantle had been shortlisted as a location for the second Common Ground facility.
Mayor Brad Pettitt said a Common Ground facility would provide a welcome addition to the supply of affordable housing and support services in Fremantle.
“There’s no question that there are a lot of people sleeping rough in Fremantle and that this number has increased substantially over the past few months,” Mayor Pettitt said.
“The City has already met with the Department of Communities and organisations like Shelter WA and St Pats about this idea and expressed our support for a Common Ground facility of the right size in Fremantle.
“We’ve also made the point that there needs to be more than one of these important facilities outside the Perth CBD and we would be willing to work with the state government and service providers to see how we might get the right spread of services.
“Ideally having quality services in the communities in which homeless people already live is the way to go, rather than just creating a concentration in one or two areas.
“The Common Ground model only succeeds if it’s integrated into the local community. If we are selected for the second facility we will work through a stakeholder engagement process to ensure site suitability and that the development is an asset to the local community.”
A Common Ground facility offers affordable apartments and a range of on-site services which provide people with a safe and permanent place to live and the support to manage their home and build a stable and healthy life.
The model is based on the principles of “Housing First” that provides housing as the first response to homelessness together with the support required to maintain a tenancy.
The model provides housing within a development that houses a mix of low income, key worker and formerly homeless tenants.
The Fremantle Council’s Finance, Policy, Operations and Legislation Committee this week supported the establishment of a Common Ground facility in Fremantle to deliver a housing first approach and wrap around services to support tenants with complex needs by providing a permanent home.
The committee acknowledged the chronic homelessness in Fremantle, noting the significant increase of people sleeping rough in the past six months, and voted to advocate for well-resourced and funded service provision to address housing and homelessness issues in Fremantle.
The committee also noted the net decrease in public housing which has reduced the number of affordable housing options in Fremantle and authorised the City’s Chief Executive Officer to explore opportunities for discussion on other or shared models, in consultation with state government and the affordable housing sector.