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    Perth ‘Tent City’ homeless residents live rough as mayor Basil Zempilas want homeless to be removed

    Life inside the ‘Tent City’ where constant fear of sexual assault and robbery haunts its residents – and now the threat of eviction looms after new mayor called for the homeless to be forcibly removed

    • Perth’s homeless are being forced to live in bedraggled collection of tents fearing for their safety every night
    • Residents of ‘Tent City’ say the homes are deteriorating and women are in fear of being sexually assaulted
    • Meanwhile, men living at the makeshift camp say they are scared their belongings will be stolen as they sleep
    • Tent City sits on a patch of sandy soil on the outskirts of Perth’s CBD surrounded by overpass and railway
    • TV personality-turned-mayor Basil Zempilas called for homeless people to be forcibly removed from the city 

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    Perth‘s homeless residents are being forced to live in a collection of tents fearing for their safety after newly-elected mayor Basil Zempilas called for them to be ‘forcibly removed’ from the city.

    Residents of ‘Tent City’ say the makeshift homes are slowly deteriorating as women fear being abused and everyone worries their possessions will be stolen from them in the night. 

    On any given night the homeless camp hosts up to 50 mostly Aboriginal homeless people – with the site’s inhabitants claiming a lack of basic services makes it impossible to prevent theft and damage. 

    Grim images show the makeshift camp on a patch of sandy soil on the outskirts of Perth’s CBD, surrounded by an overpass, a stormwater drain and railway tracks. 

    On a wall nearby is graffiti with the words: ‘Welcome to Tent City.’ 

    Perth’s homeless are being forced to live in a collection of tents fearing for their safety after newly elected mayor Basil Zempilas called for them to be forcibly removed from the city

    Raymond Ward, at the Tent City homeless camp in Perth, says the camp makes it impossible to prevent theft and damage

    Raymond Ward, at the Tent City homeless camp in Perth, says the camp makes it impossible to prevent theft and damage

    Advocates are warning of increased violence and volatility at the makeshift camp near the Lord Street bridge on the edge of Perth's CBD, which on any given night hosts up to 50 mostly Aboriginal homeless people

    Advocates are warning of increased violence and volatility at the makeshift camp near the Lord Street bridge on the edge of Perth’s CBD, which on any given night hosts up to 50 mostly Aboriginal homeless people

    Current Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas

    'I make no apologies for this, the homeless need to be moved out of the Hay and Murray Street malls and the surrounding areas,' Zempilas wrote

    Perth’s homeless crowd are being forced to live in a collection of tents fearing for their safety after newly elected mayor Basil Zempilas (left) called for them to be forcibly removed from the city (right)

    Tents line the wall and continue under a nearby bridge, keeping them out of the sun and away from rain.  

    Makeshift shelters are made from blankets and sleeping bags, hanging on surrounding fences to keep the homeless away from people passing by.

    Raymond Ward shares a shelter with up to six other people and has been there for months.

    The former shearer from Leonora in Western Australia’s Goldfields region says the lack of basic services at the camp makes it impossible to prevent abuse or theft. 

    Homeless Nyoongar woman Shonna Brown said she doesn’t sleep at night because no one feels safe staying in the tents after her partner had all his things stolen as he slept.

    ‘I always try to have my partner there with me, but sometimes he’s not there at night,’ she told Junkee.

    ‘We’re on eggshells. We don’t know if we can sleep.’  

    Neville Riley, 45, said the thin walls of his makeshift tent do very little to drown out the noise of passing cars, trains and people.

    ‘It gets cold, you got rubbish lying around, we got no bins down here — not even toilets for the ladies to go to the toilet – there’s no washbasins of no sort,’ he told the ABC.

    Raymond Ward (right) talks with Freddie in his shelter which he shares with up to six other people at the Tent City homeless camp in Perth

    Raymond Ward (right) talks with Freddie in his shelter which he shares with up to six other people at the Tent City homeless camp in Perth

    Raymond Ward (second left) talks with Freddie (left), Michelle (second from the right) and Ox (right) in his shelter which he shares with up to six other people at the Tent City homeless camp in Perth

    Raymond Ward (second left) talks with Freddie (left), Michelle (second from the right) and Ox (right) in his shelter which he shares with up to six other people at the Tent City homeless camp in Perth 

    Residents of 'Tent City' say the makeshift homes are slowly deteriorating as women fear being abused and everyone worries their possessions will be stolen from them in the night

    Residents of ‘Tent City’ say the makeshift homes are slowly deteriorating as women fear being abused and everyone worries their possessions will be stolen from them in the night

    Michelle, 54, and Ox, 40, in their shelter at the Tent City homeless camp in Perth. They are among many who claim they are terrified of staying in the makeshift camp

    Michelle, 54, and Ox, 40, in their shelter at the Tent City homeless camp in Perth. They are among many who claim they are terrified of staying in the makeshift camp

    ‘It’s just like living in the jungle with no security of any sort at all.’

    Social services provider Wungening Aboriginal Corporation is looking to secure 50 beds in an out-of-service backpackers for Tent City residents.

    Chief executive Daniel Morrison said he was working to help the city’s homeless, but more needed to be done. 

    ‘We hope to put them in longer term accommodation at the end of the road,’ he said.  

    The idea of putting homeless people in backpackers accommodation left empty because of the coronavirus pandemic was an idea sparked by candidate for Lord Mayor Mark Gibson.

    He vowed to broker a deal between the council and the backpackers, despite it being a state government responsibility.

    But his plan was stalled when Channel Seven presenter Mr Zempilas was elected Lord Mayor of Perth in October.

    The football commentator-turned-mayor came under fire for earlier branding homeless people ‘smelly’ in a scathing newspaper article in November last year. 

    Basil Zempilas has been married to longtime girlfriend Amy Graham since 2009, with the pair tying the knot in Greece. They share two daughters and a son. All pictured

    Basil Zempilas has been married to longtime girlfriend Amy Graham since 2009, with the pair tying the knot in Greece. They share two daughters and a son. All pictured 

    Shortly after he was elected Mr Zempilas said the homeless issue was 'not fair on the individuals themselves and not fair on the City of Perth'

    Shortly after he was elected Mr Zempilas said the homeless issue was ‘not fair on the individuals themselves and not fair on the City of Perth’ 

    The former shearer from Leonora in Western Australia's Goldfields region says the lack of basic services at the camp makes it impossible to prevent abuse or theft

    The former shearer from Leonora in Western Australia’s Goldfields region says the lack of basic services at the camp makes it impossible to prevent abuse or theft

    On any given night the homeless camp hosts up to 50 mostly Aboriginal homeless people, with inhabitants claiming lack of basic services makes it impossible to prevent theft and damage

    On any given night the homeless camp hosts up to 50 mostly Aboriginal homeless people, with inhabitants claiming lack of basic services makes it impossible to prevent theft and damage

    The father-of-three sparked outrage early in his campaign when he said he’d ‘forcibly remove’ homeless people from the CBD, calling them a ‘blight’ on the city.  

    ‘I make no apologies for this, the homeless need to be moved out of the Hay and Murray Street malls and the surrounding areas,’ Mr Zempilas wrote at the time. 

    ‘Forcibly, if that’s what it takes. I’m sick of being told by people who don’t live and work in the city like I do that it’s not that bad – actually it’s worse.’

    He continued: ‘The look, the smell, the language, the fights – it’s disgusting.

    ‘A blight on our city and the single biggest impediments to progress and rejuvenation.’

    Mr Zempilas was forced to apologise after copping widespread backlash over the comments, with critics accusing him of being ‘disconnected from the city’.

    ‘Those comments were made in frustration over nine months ago after an incident with my wife and my six year old daughter and a man exposing himself at 11am on a Sunday,’ he told Daily Mail Australia in August.

    ‘But the comments weren’t appropriate and I have apologised.

    Images show the makeshift camp on a patch of sandy soil on the outskirts of Perth's CBD, surrounded by an overpass, a stormwater drain and railway tracks

    Images show the makeshift camp on a patch of sandy soil on the outskirts of Perth’s CBD, surrounded by an overpass, a stormwater drain and railway tracks

    Social services provider Wungening Aboriginal Corporation is looking to secure 50 beds in an out-of-service backpackers for the Tent City (pictured) residents

    Social services provider Wungening Aboriginal Corporation is looking to secure 50 beds in an out-of-service backpackers for the Tent City (pictured) residents

    Tents line the wall and continue under a nearby bridge, keeping them out of the sun and away from rain. Raymond Ward can be seen looking out towards the Perth CBD

    Tents line the wall and continue under a nearby bridge, keeping them out of the sun and away from rain. Raymond Ward can be seen looking out towards the Perth CBD

    ‘I’ve spent a good deal of the last six months educating myself by speaking with people who are homeless, trying to understand their situation better and by speaking with service providers.’  

    Days before the election Perth woke up to a guerrilla art installation using Mr Zempilas’ comments.

    On October 7 a group of artists installed a bench dubbed ‘The Shelter Seat’, which could be transformed into a shelter when the backrest was unlatched.

    The seat featured quotes from Mr Zemiplas’ controversial column, but when the seat’s backrest was lifted and provided shelter for rough sleepers it revealed the words ‘stay as long as you like’.

    The bench was removed within hours.  

    Despite backtracking and apologising, the 49-year-old quickly doubled-down, saying dealing with the homeless was a ‘huge issue’ for ratepayers and visitors to Perth, and vowed to bring up the topic with the State Government early in his position as mayor.

    Makeshift shelters are made from blankets and sleeping bags, hanging on surrounding fences to keep the homeless away from people passing by

    Makeshift shelters are made from blankets and sleeping bags, hanging on surrounding fences to keep the homeless away from people passing by

    Tents are seen at the makeshift camp on the outskirts of Perth's CBD as rubbish is strewn across the ground with residents' belongings

    Tents are seen at the makeshift camp on the outskirts of Perth’s CBD as rubbish is strewn across the ground with residents’ belongings

    Michelle, 54, is seen in her shelter at the Tent City homeless camp in Perth. She is hoping she will soon have a bed in an unused backpackers instead of staying in the side-of-the-road camp

    Michelle, 54, is seen in her shelter at the Tent City homeless camp in Perth. She is hoping she will soon have a bed in an unused backpackers instead of staying in the side-of-the-road camp

    Shortly after he was elected Mr Zempilas said the homeless issue was ‘not fair on the individuals themselves and not fair on the City of Perth’.

    ‘We need to find better interim solutions for those people who are homeless,’ he told The West Australian

    He also revealed he will work with Queensland based organisation Beddown, who turn car parks into temporary shelters for the homeless.

    ‘They take empty or unused spaces … They roll out bedding … and instead of people sleeping on the streets, they sleep in a safer environment where they can get a good night’s sleep and get some extra support,’ he said.

    Despite the election taking place more than a month ago, Wungening has only just been given the red flag to move on with the plan.

    Tent City residents are not impressed though – with Ms Brown questioning what council is waiting for.

    ‘We just need help, it’s all we’re asking for, housing. It’s not safe anymore. A lot of people come there and help us with food and what not. But that’s not exactly what we want. We need housing.’ 

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