Australia Homeless to be evicted from hotel because WA Government won't pay, owner says

08:57  16 february  2021
08:57  16 february  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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a tent in a grassy area: Homeless people were taken to the hotel when Fremantle's tent city was closed on January 23. (ABC News: Herlyn Kaur) © Provided by ABC NEWS Homeless people were taken to the hotel when Fremantle's tent city was closed on January 23. (ABC News: Herlyn Kaur)

A Perth hotel owner says he is being forced to kick out homeless guests — including young families and pregnant mothers — because the state government is refusing to pay for their accommodation.

Last month the government moved rough sleepers who had set up tents at Fremantle's Pioneer Park into alternative accommodation, including hotels, after mounting public pressure.

Perth City Apartment Hotel owner Eddie Kamil said guests arrived in late January after authorities moved to dismantle the homeless camp.

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Mr Kamil said he had been under the impression their accommodation would be paid for by the state government, since it had housed other homeless people there.

He said people staying in 11 rooms at the hotel had been staying there for more than three weeks for free, and the arrangement was no longer tenable.

"Tomorrow, February 17, we have to ask them to leave. We hate to do this," he said in a statement.

"Among them are young families, people in wheelchairs, pregnant mothers, and one woman who gave birth last week. They have nowhere else to go.

"But the government promised they would pay, and they haven't, so they have to leave tomorrow morning."

Rooms 'booked by activists': McGowan

But the WA Premier Mark McGowan said the government had not paid for the rooms because they had been booked by "activists".

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"Those rooms were not booked by the state government," Mr McGowan said.

"If the activists booked those rooms, they should meet that cost."

Mr McGowan said the government had offered to work with every person at the Fremantle camp to find them appropriate accommodation.

"Clearly some of the activists involved, Extinction Rebellion people and those sorts of anarchists, intervened in that process and did this," Mr McGowan said.

"They have exploited vulnerable people. We have just tried to help people. We will continue to help people as required.

"Whoever booked the rooms should meet the cost."

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House the Homeless WA, a campaign established in 2020 and launched by a group of long-term housing advocates, has been supporting camp residents.

Spokesman Jesse Noakes — previously a spokesman for Extinction Rebellion — said he had not booked any rooms for homeless people at the hotel.

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But he said he had taken two people there, a heavily pregnant woman and a very unwell man, over concerns for their wellbeing, under an informal agreement with the hotel.

He said one of those people had since had their accommodation paid for by the state government.

"The government made a clear guarantee that it would accommodate all of the people who were at the Fremantle camp," Mr Noakes said.

"I would expect that it would honour that promise."

Bookings 'vague': hotel

Mr Kamil said the hotel had taken on clients through a range of homeless service providers, including the Department of Communities, Wungening Aboriginal Corporation, RUAH, Uniting WA, over several years.

He said arrivals from the Fremantle tent city came on January 23 when the camp was shut down.

"We have spoken at least every day since then with the Department [of Communities], Wungening and other service providers confirming details of these bookings," he said.

"All the bookings including the initial lot from Perth Tent City have been vague and only confirmed after a lot of back and forth with the Department and others and a lot of requests for payment.

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"Several times the government have called to say they'll pay for all the bookings, and then changed their mind hours later.

"We have been visited by government staff, and staff from Wungening and Uniting WA on a daily basis.

"They have engaged with all our guests, and several times provided food vouchers for every room."

Mr McGowan said the Department would work with people who might be forced out of the hotel and onto the street.

"We will continue to help people as required," he said.

"But people also need to work with us."

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usr: 1
This is interesting!