The State Government has brought forward a major project to address homelessness in Bunbury and provide rough sleepers with stable housing and support. The Housing First Homeless Initiative will see Bunbury as one of five locations sharing in $34.5 million in funding for support services and rental subsidies to house 20 people a year, as well as an increase in the amount of public, social and affordable housing. Community Services Minister Simone McGurk said evidence showed the initiative was the best approach to address homelessness in the long run. “It’s been implemented in a much smaller scale in Perth already, but internationally it’s been implemented with great success. “In the approach already implemented in Perth, over three years 147 people were housed and 88 per cent of those people are still in their housing three years later. Ms McGurk said the two elements of the approach went “hand-in-hand” to give people stable, permanent accommodation that suited their needs and as much support as they needed to keep them stable in that accommodation. Ms McGurk said the funding available would be for private rental brokerage, so the client would pay the equivalent of what they would pay in public sector housing. She said the State Government would meet any gap between the private rental amount and fee required. “A community sector housing organisation is funded to help manage that private rental accommodation for the client,” she said. Bunbury MLA Don Punch said homelessness was something the community was concerned about. “This announcement doesn’t take away the very good work agencies are currently doing in Bunbury,” Mr Punch said. A census of known rough sleepers was recently undertaken in Bunbury, which identified about 70 people sleeping rough. A significant number of those identified were also experiencing issues around family and domestic violence, mental health, substance misuse and interaction with the justice systems.