Calls renewed to address anti-social behaviour at emergency accommodation in East Melbourne
East Melbourne residents say concerns of anti-social behaviour at an emergency accommodation site have been going on for “too long”, and they have called on authorities to address the issue.
Their renewed call for action comes after Victoria Police responded to an incident during which a man barricaded himself inside a building on Albert St about 10.40am on November 21.
Police said responding officers negotiated with the man who at times was on the outside of the building on top of an air-conditioning unit on the first-floor roof.
“After several hours of negotiations, the man surrendered into police custody,’ a police spokesperson said.
Sources who spoke to Inner City News said the incident occurred within the location of the Comfort Inn Hotel and City Edge Apartments at 90 and 92 Albert St, which are used as emergency accommodation sites by specialist homelessness agencies.
Residents have previously spoken of concerns over drug activity, graffiti, and rubbish being sighted within the buildings, which prompted one resident at a City of Melbourne meeting last year to say authorities “need to step up”.
In response, the City of Melbourne installed a CCTV camera in a “very specific location” as a trial under its Safe City camera program following community feedback in “relation to issues raised either directly to council or via Victoria Police”.
However, the recent incident has further fuelled anxieties of the community, with the East Melbourne Group (EMG) saying it continued to work with stakeholders to ensure the best outcome for everyone.
“We are aware of the complexities of the issues facing some of the guests, however we also express our disappointment that this matter has been going on too long,” EMG president Greg Bisinella said.
“Our residents are experiencing fear, loss of sleep, theft and property damage as a result of the anti-social behaviour of guests of this facility. Action needs to be taken to support the at-risk guests through better wrap around services or they are found more appropriate accommodation.”
According to one source, the man in question involved in the police incident is understood to have recently been discharged from jail with his allocated accommodation having expired.
Police said the 43-year-old man of no fixed address was later released to appear at the Heidelberg Magistrates’ Court at a later date on unrelated matters.
The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) said it did not have direct arrangements with private hotels such as the City Edge Apartments and Comfort Hotel in East Melbourne.
However, when matters of concern are raised with the department, agencies supporting people in accommodation are notified, DFFH said, adding all criminal matters are to be reported to Victoria Police.
The department stated it funded specialist homelessness agencies that assist people at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness to access emergency accommodation including hotels, motels, and other short-term options.
It said providers were to ensure housing was safe and fit-for-purpose, noting Homes Victoria did not have a direct relationship with hotel accommodation providers and did not have regulatory powers over those private businesses. •