Hostel is 'bad for business', owners say
BUSINESS owners at North Booval say they're suffering heavy financial losses as their block becomes a "no-go zone" for would-be customers.
Owners say residents from nearby assisted living hostel Christine Court are often seen approaching people stopping at the shops, asking for cigarettes or money, which they say is driving customers away.
One business owner is facing closure after losing half his clients and wants the hostel's management to take action.
One woman in particular has become the focus of the businesses' distress and raised welfare concerns; she is often there late at night, even sleeping in the laundromat, and has been collected by the police multiple times in the past six months.
The State Government investigated last month, following a formal complaint, but found no wrong-doing on behalf of the hostel's management.
Christine Court owner Grant Kelly said he understood the business owners' concerns but has labelled their methods, including starting a Facebook page calling for the centre to be shut down, discriminatory.
Mr Kelly said while the residents' presence might represent a burden, the people living at Christine Court were part of the community and didn't deserve the negative attention a targeted social media campaign can create.
For business owners, starting the Facebook page which went up in early November was a last resort.
Brady Jones, has been running De Vyne Hair Studio on Gledson St, North Booval for two years.
In the past six months half of his clients have told him they've found somewhere else to go with some saying they are "too scared" to keep coming back.
Now the loss of business has left Mr Jones with a tough decision to make, one that might not see the doors open again after Christmas.
"If everything keeps going the way it has been in the past six months we won't make it," Mr Jones said.
"I don't think a facility like Christine Court should be here in the middle of suburbia. I'd like to see it relocated to somewhere more appropriate."
Christine Court is a hostel catering for older people, people with disabilities and those who need extra support.
It has been operating under Grant Kelly's ownership for the past 10 years and is a for-profit business housing 50 residents who are provided with food, laundry services, medication, general and personal support.
Mr Kelly said the community was "like a family" and while he recognised some people were there because of poor life decisions that have had them lose the support of their family, they didn't deserve to be shunned by society.
"We've agonised over this; for months we've been trying to help find the particular woman spending time at the shops different accommodation," he said.
He said the general feeling from the business owners was "not in my backyard".
"These people have been kicked into the garbage bin," Mr Kelly says.
"The solution seems to be that 'ugly people' shouldn't be allowed on the street...
"The business owners say they're suffering, but my business has suffered because of what they've done in retaliation (referring to the Facebook page)."
The State Government's Department of Housing inspected Christine Court in November after a formal complaint was lodged by the business owners.
Its investigation found the hostel was operating within the legislation and confirmed no complaint over the past 13 years against Christine Court had been substantiated.
"All are seriously considered, and when required, compliance action is undertaken with service providers to address breaches of registration and/or accreditation requirements," a housing department spokesperson said.
"The last complaint, made by a local business owner, was investigated on November 15, 2016.
"The service provider was found to be operating in accordance with accreditation requirements."