Mandurah's homeless telling their stories

Mandurah's most-vulnerable residents are squatting in rundown properties. They are camping on the beach or crashing on friends' couches. One resident is so backed into a corner, he has no option but to sleep at a property where a homeless man was allegedly stabbed to death in February.

For Homelessness Week 2019, running from August 4-10, the Mandurah Mail has spoken with people in unimaginable situations, and will run a four-week series exploring the issue in detail.

Local residents who have struggled to grapple with a major life event, addiction or a disability, have become helpless, and incapable of holding down accommodation.

Dean Simpson, 32, has lived in Mandurah for two years. He became homeless seven years ago after his methamphetamine addiction spiraled out of control.

Dean Simpson and his dog Bruiser.

Dean Simpson and his dog Bruiser.

The father-of-one sleeps at a rundown property on Cooper Street where 23-year-old homeless man Roy James Erwin died in February.

Police allege Mr Erwin was murdered by David Morris Best, 56, who lived in a home behind the squat house.

Mr Best has not entered a plea to the charge and will be reappearing in the Supreme Court on September 25.

Dean is currently staying at his friend's place, which was previously a squat house.

"It's really tough, especially in winter time when it's cold and you don't have a place to sleep," he said.

Dean is in recovery from his meth addiction and is receiving treatment, but he said coming off the drug was the "hardest thing in the world" and he had relapsed twice in the past year.

"If you have an addictive personality, or nature, it's even harder to get off," he said.

"I just keep a clear view of my daughter in my head. As soon as you relapse, your money is gone again."

He said meth was easy to come by in Mandurah and costed about $50 for a point of a gram, which "doesn't even last a night".

Bondy is sleeping rough in Mandurah.

Bondy is sleeping rough in Mandurah.

Dean said at the height of his addiction he would spend more than $300 on the drug, in a couple of nights, making him incapable of paying rent.

"It runs your life and you start looking at things you can swap or sell for cash," he said.

Dean is currently unemployed. He said he has stopped looking for work due to the number of rejections he has received.

Bondy, who sleeps near the Mandurah Marina, has been homeless on-and-off since 2011 after he split up with his ex-partner.

"The kids ended up in care and I became homeless," he said.

I broke my sacrum of the spine and disintegrated my tail bone and have blind force trauma.

Daniel Innes

Bondy said it hurt his feelings when he heard people speaking about him, in front of him, as if he was invisible.

"Just because I am poor and homeless and a nomad doesn't mean I am different to any other rich person," he said.

"My wealth is what lives inside this body - my mind and my soul."

Mandurah resident Daniel Innes is renting a home, but he said he is struggling financially and relies on his Centrelink payment and the local soup kitchen for meals after being involved in a serious car crash.

"I hit a tree at 110 kilometres per hour," he said.

"I am on that many medications. I broke my sacrum of the spine and disintegrated my tail bone and have blind force trauma. I can't do anything."

Hank Rynhart.

Hank Rynhart.

Daniel said he cannot work anymore, an infliction that was not his choice.

A man called Russ who has been sleeping at the Eastern Foreshore said he became homeless due to a legal battle.

He said a locker and showers for the homeless downtown would be helpful.

Hank Rynhart, 69, calls himself a "couch surfer", "peacemaker" and a spokesman for Mandurah homeless people.

The retiree worked in the not-for-profit sector before becoming homeless in his latter years when his boat - and home - sunk off Mandurah.

All hell rained down on me, they were my darkest days.

Hank Rynhart

Hank said he lives in a "house of mayhem" with other squatters in Halls Head, but he plans to bring the house under control.

Hank said he squatted in a local garage in the past, before it was fire-bombed, along with all of his possessions.

"All hell rained down on me, they were my darkest days," he said.

"I slept in the back of the car and lived fortnight to fortnight, waiting for my dole to come through. It can be pretty bloody depressing, especially when it's rainy and cold and you're squished up in the back of your car with all the belongings you have got."

Hank said his friends had become homeless for various reasons.

"Some people choose to be homeless, other people have fallen through the cracks because they have come out of prison systems without proper rehabilitation," he said.

Photo: Mandurah Police/Twitter.

Photo: Mandurah Police/Twitter.

"People have been discharged from hospitals without medication so they're non-compliant and have schizophrenia, bipolar or drug issues.

"For every homeless person here there are 10 people one pay packet away from being homeless."

Hank said homeless people were regularly moved on by rangers or police.

"A lot of people get agro if they are forced to move on - but the police are reasonably sympathetic," he said.

"The police have dropped homeless people off at our house, a woman with just a blanket around her, because they don't know what else to do with her - so we have to deal with the problem."

Hank said a two-storey squat house outside the Mandurah Dome was ordered to be demolished by the City of Mandurah because there were squatters inside.

"Demolishing the house just exacerbated the problem, because now you have 16 people who had to go and find other squats," he said.

A City of Mandurah spokeswoman said four homes had been ordered to be demolished in the past 12 months.

Mandurah Police recently posted a photo on social media and said they were checking vacant homes for squatters.

"Three houses checked this morning with people located and moved on - you call we act," the post said.

Mandurah Police Senior Sergeant Darren Hart said homelessness was a social issue, not an offence or police issue.

"Police respond to reported offences regardless of whether those involved have a home or not," he said.

"Mandurah police are involved with the Mandurah Homeless and Street Present Network, which involves service providers, police and the City of Mandurah working together to try and find solutions to what is an incredibly complex social problem."

Senior Sergeant Hart said squatting can often result in trespass charges being laid.

"Police respond to reports of people squatting as we do with other reported matters by attending and investigating," he said.

At the July 23 City of Mandurah council meeting, mayor Rhys Williams called for a greater commitment from the state government for housing in Mandurah.