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Hutt St Centre considers relocation as pressure mounts

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EXCLUSIVE | The Hutt Street Centre for the homeless is considering relocating after 64 years of operation, as political pressure over nearby anti-social behaviour escalates.

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Hutt Street under fire

InDaily can reveal that the board of the homelessness day centre is considering moving its services to a new facility, prompted by “discontent” among business operators in the Hutt Street precinct.

The board of Hutt Street Centre has been considering rebuilding at the current location to meet increasing demand for its services – an option that remains on the table.

But it is now also contemplating relocation as a result of the outcry.

Hutt Street Centre board chair Phillip Donato told InDaily: “We may stay, or we may (leave) but ultimately it will depend on what’s best the client group and the community.”

“Discontent isn’t helpful for anybody, and ultimately we want to do what’s best for all.

“Our preferred option beforehand was to do a rebuild, but now we have heard all the discontent (relocating is) on the table.”

The owner of Bici Café, which is located opposite the homelessness day centre, told ABC Radio Adelaide last week that she was selling the business because of violent incidents over the past 12 months.

The Adelaide City Council – spurred by councillors Alex Antic and Anne Moran, who say they have received a series complaints about violence in Hutt Street over recent months – has committed to installing five new CCTV cameras on the street, commissioning security guard patrols and establishing a precinct working group.

SA Police denied any increase in reports of violent crime at the southeast corner of the CBD, saying it works with stakeholders and performs regular patrols to ensure the safety of the area, in February. InDaily contacted SAPOL last week for an update on the conditions in the area but we are yet to receive a response.

The Hutt Street Centre offers showers, laundry facilities, healthcare, recreation activities, education and training, legal aid and housing services, among others, for people experiencing homelessness in Adelaide.

Its board met on Sunday to discuss options.

Donato told InDaily the Hutt Street Centre was located in an “ageing facility” catering to growing demand for its services and changing demographics.

“We’ve had an increased demand … we’ve tried to cater for that,” he said.

“We need to ensure that we have enough bathrooms, enough showers to cater for the different demographics (increasing numbers of homeless women).”

He stressed that “we find any form of anti-social behaviour unacceptable” and that the safety of its staff, volunteers, clients and members of the community were the centre’s priority.

Donato said that footage had emerged of an altercation in front of the centre, but that “some of the more serious things that have happened have not involved our clients at all”.

Hutt Street Centre volunteers sent an open letter to The Advertiser, published yesterday, arguing that it was unfair to tar homeless people that use the service because of incidents involving a small minority, and that they had never felt threatened by their clients.

Donato said the centre would research world’s best practise approaches to delivering homelessness services and decide in due course whether to relocate or rebuild – and consider any other options.

He said the centre, associated with the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, would be discussing its options with the State Government, the Adelaide City Council and the Catholic Church.

“We are always needing to evaluate our services and our client group,” he said.

“We need to do research and we need to examine … overseas models as well as some local ones.

“We just want what’s best for the poor.”

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