Western Australia’s first ‘Common Ground’ will be built on the corner of Hill and Wellington streets in central Perth.
Community Services Minister Simone McGurk today announced the location for the new supported housing facility, along with additional funding for homelessness services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
People with complex needs will be housed and supported alongside low-income earners in the purpose-built Common Ground complex, which will include at least 70 self-contained apartments.
The East Perth facility is one of two Common Grounds funded as part of the record $71.7 million State Government funding boost for homelessness services announced in December to support the implementation of WA’s first 10-year strategy on homelessness.
As part of the State’s response to COVID-19 and the WA Recovery Plan, the Government has now committed an additional $6.8 million to a range of specialist homelessness services to ensure immediate delivery of homelessness services to those in need.
This package includes almost $2.3 million in Lotterywest grants to services providing support to people currently experiencing homelessness.
This is in addition to the McGowan Government’s $34.5 million Housing First Homelessness Initiative (including rental subsidies), which aims to provide stable housing and support to 170 individuals or families a year across Perth, Rockingham, Mandurah, Bunbury and Geraldton.
The proven Common Ground model of supportive housing offers a mix of permanent, affordable housing that is linked with tailored, dedicated support services to address the root causes of homelessness.
The model originated in New York City more than 20 years ago and has since been adopted in other Australian States and Territories.
It offers supportive housing for people who are sleeping rough or experiencing chronic homelessness, in a residential complex that includes self-contained apartments, communal areas and office spaces.
For those with complex needs, housing is coupled with an intensive case-management support program, to help them maintain their tenancy, build their independence and prevent a return to homelessness or rough sleeping later in life.
The selection of the site next to the Royal Perth Hospital precinct follows consultation between the Department of Communities and the City of Perth to determine the best location for the first facility in the central Perth area.
A number of sites were examined and rated on a basis of proximity to employment and opportunities and support services, primary health services, public transport and recreation spaces.
Options for the second Common Ground site have been identified, with a final decision on its location to be announced later this year.
Construction of Perth Common Ground is expected to commence during the 2021-22 financial year.
Common Ground models are designed to integrate into the community with the opportunity to incorporate a commercial space into the design of the building.
As stated by Community Services Minister Simone McGurk:
“All the evidence tells us that combining safe and stable accommodation with support services is the key to breaking the cycle of homelessness.
“Common Ground facilities in other Australian cities have successfully supported people who were homeless into permanent housing – in some cases for the first time ever.
“Perth Common Ground will be no exception, offering a safe, secure, affordable and permanent home to some of WA’s most vulnerable people.
“Studies have found that people who enter the Common Ground program have less interaction with police and the justice system and reduce pressure on hospital emergency departments.
“Homelessness is an issue right across the country, but the McGowan Government is committed to delivering long-term outcomes for vulnerable Western Australians and local communities.”
As stated by Perth MLA John Carey:
“I have been working with the City of Perth and local stakeholders to drive a more co-ordinated approach to homelessness in the city.
“The Common Ground model has been effective in getting rough sleepers off the streets in the long-term in other cities, so I welcome its introduction to central Perth and the benefits it will deliver for local residents and businesses.
“This new service will provide ongoing support to people with complex health and mental health issues, so the location within the Royal Perth Hospital precinct makes good sense.”