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Post Newspaper// Feature Story

Article published: 18th April 2020

Written by: David Cohen

Port in a storm

Cottesloe resident Patrick Prendiville has helped shelter 35 homeless people from the worst of the COVID19 crisis.“It’s been a real eye-opener,” he said on Thursday,in the lobby of his boutique Hougoumont Hotel. Couples and families with children moved into 24 rooms of Patrick’s hotel two weeks ago. Patrick received a call from Fremantle councillor Adin Lang, who had been working with St Patrick’s community support centre in Fremantle. Mr Lang said the centre was trying to isolate vulnerable people to help prevent the spread of the virus. After looking at Patrick’s Bannister Street hotel theythought it was too small.But thehotelier got a call from advocacy worker Jesse Noakes the next day.“Jesse said, ‘We’ve got 35 people about to hit the streets’,”.“We said, ‘OK: we’ve got anempty building’ Patrick said.“Everyone settled in very quickly and Jesse has stayedon site to help.”Patrick said hearing homeless people’s stories and the nature of Jesse’s work had been sobering.“The government is slow tomove when it comes to helping people,” he said.“Thankfully Jesse and his group are much more agile.“I would like to see some state government help, like the Pan Pacifi c trial.”In the meantime Jesse’sgroup have set up a crowdfunder at bit.ly/portinastormwhich has raised more than$10,000.“We are incredibly appreciative of the community response. People have given food, medical supplies, even fridges and barbecues,” he said.“We’ve spent half our annual budget on this – and we know there are many months to go.”Late last month the state government announced the five-star Pan Pacifi c in Perth would take in about 20 homeless people in a trial program aimed at preventing the spreadof COVID-19.At the time Community Services Minister Simone McGurk said the trial, called Hotels with Heart, would take the pressure off the health system and potentially help to flatten the infection curve.A spokeswoman for MsMcGurk said the trial had just under two weeks to go