01/08/2022 - 11:23

East Perth homeless facility delay

01/08/2022 - 11:23

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Progress on a 112-unit facility to house people experiencing homelessness has hit a snag amid rising construction costs.

East Perth homeless facility delay
Render of the Common Ground East Perth facility. Image: Gresley Abas Architects

Progress on a 112-unit facility to house people experiencing homelessness has hit a snag amid rising construction costs.

The state government previously committed $70 million to Common Ground facilities in both East Perth and Mandurah, to house people sleeping rough or on a very low income.

The East Perth facility will be located on the corner of Hill and Wellington streets, comprising 112 self-contained apartments with communal areas, on-site support services and commercial space.

According to a report released by the Office of the Auditor General in June, the Common Ground Perth project’s budget had increased by $20 million and was facing a cost risks.

The project’s initial expected completion date was September 2024 with the facility to be fully operational by December.

However, Homelessness and Housing Minister John Carey announced last week the state government had declined offers received in the tender process to build the East Perth facility.

Mr Carey said the state government would return to market and issue a new request for tender to deliver Common Ground Perth shortly.

"As disappointing as this is, this was done upon the advice of the Department of Communities and ensures that value for money is not compromised, under the heated construction market and to the WA taxpayers,” he said.

"This government remains strongly committed to delivering this important 112-unit facility that will provide permanent housing along with a suite of vital support services.

"That's why we are investing more than $70 million to deliver two new Common Ground facilities, with $8 million funded through the Perth City Deal for the East Perth facility."

Opposition housing spokesman Steve Martin said the project update was devastating news.

Mr Martin said the government had let down some of the most vulnerable people in the community with the announcement made days before Homeless Week, which started this week.

“We have around 1,000 rough sleepers in the greater Perth area,” he said.

“Minister Carey’s decision puts back even further any hope these vulnerable people have of finding suitable accommodation.

“The Boorloo Bidee Mia homeless shelter that was opened last year is also operating well below its intended capacity.

“Minister Carey needs to stop hiding behind advice from his department and take responsibility for his inability to do anything to fix the homeless crisis in WA.

“This is the second time the Housing and Homelessness Minister has used ‘value for money’ and a booming construction industry as an excuse for failing to deliver on projects, previously delaying social housing for the Kimberley.”

A proposal for the Common Ground Perth facility with a $34.5 million price tag, with designs by Gresley Abas Architects, was approved by the City of Perth Local Development Assessment Panel in March.

However, the Office of the Auditor-General report in June found the Common Ground Perth’s approved budget had increased from $25 million to $45.4 million.

“The increased budget was due mainly to scope changes, but with some recognition of construction industry cost pressures,” the report said.

“The budget increase from the original announcement in 2019 was due to the State Government’s approval of the Business Case, which increased the capacity of Common Ground East Perth to 112 units in response to the growing number of people sleeping rough in Perth.

“Due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the construction industry, and as part of the 2022-23 State Budget process, $8.5 million is provisionally approved to cover cost escalations.”

According to the report, the Common Ground Mandurah budget had increased by $18 million to $28.10 million.

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