Uniting Vic.Tas CEO Paul Linossier said community-housing residents should not be stereotyped as violent and anti-social people following a much-publicised attack on Melbourne radio host Kate Langbroek.
Last Friday, Ms Langbroek was allegedly injured by a man who tried to break into her home and forcibly enter her babysitter’s car. A 38-year-old St Kilda man was later charged with aggravated burglary and trespass.
The alleged attack took place near The Regal boarding house in St Kilda.
On Thursday, the state government announced it will spend $6 million to shut down The Regal within the next two weeks and convert it into a women’s shelter.
Mr Linossier told the ABC that the government must ensure vulnerable members of the community receive adequate support and can access appropriate housing.
“Discussions shouldn’t be centred around the closure of the boarding house,” Mr Linossier said.
“Rather we have to address the core issues that affect the people that live in this type of accommodation — the spiralling cost of housing, the decline of low-skilled jobs, the lack of provision of appropriate services to tackle mental health or alcohol and other drug issues.”
Ms Langbroek earlier said that “the real vulnerable” people are the “decent citizens of St Kilda” and claims The Regal has become a haven for “every hideous, vile manifestation of humanity that has abandoned itself”.
In a tweet directed at Victorian Housing Minister Martin Foley, Ms Langbroek called on the minister to “stop the degradation of St Kilda hill.”
She told her radio listeners that criminal behaviour in St Kilda has become rampant ever since residents of the former Gatwick Hotel moved into nearby public housing.
The Gatwick housed some of Melbourne’s most disadvantaged people for decades, but was also associated with violence and drug use. The boarding house was shut down last year.
According to Port Phillip Leader, neighbours have dubbed The Regal the “New Gatwick”. Residents living near the area recorded more than 200 incidents of anti-social behaviour in the past two months.
Half of The Regal’s 48 units have already been closed and the remaining tenants will be progressively relocated to other housing.
Uniting Prahran (formerly Prahran Mission) offers mental health support and emergency relief for people experiencing social and economic disadvantage in the St Kilda area.