Critical Hutt St Centre must expand: client
AFTER leaving his job “without a plan B”, Paul Langdon found himself homeless and living on the streets five months ago.
The 52-year-old could not access Centrelink payments because he had no valid form of identification, leaving him vulnerable with no support.
He turned to the Hutt St Centre and has since embraced its services, calling them the “lifeline” he needed during the “bleak” stage of his life.
“I was on the street for a month before I went to the Hutt St Centre … it was a brave step for me to go there,” Mr Langdon said. “I needed someone to support me and find my way back out of this.”
As the centre continues to help Mr Langdon find his way, he is hopeful that its proposed $2.2 million expansion is approved by the Adelaide City Council tonight.
He said an upgrade of the centre would enable it to continue its work helping people in a situation like his own.
The upgrade includes a new front foyer, fencing and pergola.
A report by council staff said the “alterations to the building are considered a positive outcome for the street”.
The centre has come under fire in recent years for clients’ alleged anti-social behaviour, however it denies those claims.
Acting on behalf of the centre, lawyer James Hilditch, of Hilditch Lawyers, wrote to the council that the centre is “frustrated when its clients are immediately and readily blamed for anti-social behaviour”. The council report included comments made by SA Police in last year’s Poverty Select Committee that officers felt “sorry” for the centre as it had been incorrectly blamed for crime.
Mr Langdon, now living in a city hotel under an SA Government initiative to support the homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic, said the majority of people using the centre were doing the right thing.
The council has received 14 representations against the centre’s expansion.
The Advertiser reported earlier this month that Hutt St Centre critics had ramped up attacks on the centre, labelling it “poisonous” as they lobbied to block its expansion. Hutt St Centre chief executive Chris Burns declined to comment ahead of the meeting.
Adelaide City Council Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor said the upgrade would “make the centre work better”.
“I know there has been issues around the centre and these plans may somewhat relieve those on the street … like discouraging loitering at the front,” Ms Verschoor said.
Shelter SA executive director Alice Clark expected homelessness to increase and the expansion would address the issue.
A WAY OUT: Paul Langdon is one of the Hutt St Centre’s clients and fully supports its expansion.