Hopes subsidy will ease homelessness
Activists have had a small victory in wringing an annual $20,000 subsidy from ratepayers for the next three years to part-fund a local housing advocacy officer.
The win comes with a final acceptance the Shire of AugustaMargaret River isn’t responsible for addressing concerns about homelessness within the region.
The ruling came to last week’s council meeting after adoption of a policy in October reiterating the Shire’s position, and an officer-led meeting with advocacy group Just Home in December.
“The consensus was that the collection of data and regular reporting is needed to better understand the issue of homelessness within the shire,” the council report said.
Councillors were previously unable to ascertain specific rates of homelessness within the shire after activists used Statewide figures to argue between 80 and 100 people were homeless locally at any time.
The definition of homelessness — a partial focus for officers working to meet directions from councillors concerned about the issue — also included itinerant workers and van-based travellers without permanent accommodation.
The financial commitment would go into this year’s budget earmarked for three years, though councillor Pam Townshend added a requirement for “solid data” to be collected by the part-funded officer based at Margaret River Community Resource Centre.
At last week’s council meeting, Cr Townshend noted the issue came to the Shire after State and Federal Government “abrogated responsibility over the years” for homelessness.
The motion was supported by all seven councillors.
“Local government always gets sucked into the vortex when State and Federal Governments leave the space,” Leeuwin ward’s Kim Hastie said.
“This (outcome) has at least got some checks and balances in the relatively short term.”
Cr Felicity Haynes said the decision was an action to help people without housing.
“It seems exactly the right thing to do to support volunteer organisations,” she said.
Just Home would submit an annual report for the funding to continue and councillors said it was not intended to continue beyond the three-year time frame.