Fears on Scott Street

Given the steep incline, drivers often struggle to see homeless people who seek shelter at the top of this throughfare. Picture: JONTY RALPHSMITH. 286121.

By Jonty Ralphsmith

A member of the community action group for crime prevention says homelessness needs to be addressed to significantly combat the crime fear gripping businesses in Dandenong.

Many rough sleepers seek refuge in the area near Mr Yim’s workplace, causing them to nearly be runover.

“The angle exiting the carpark is very steep so when you are coming up you can’t see in front of you,” explained colleague Zia Hassan.

“The (homeless) girl was just next to the shutter door so lucky she saw her at the last second or she could easily have killed him.”

People nearly being run-over is not an isolated incident.

Others sleep in emergency doorways, making the escape routes inaccessible.

The action group is overseen by council and Thay Horn Yim, who works on Scott Street says there is a sense of angst in his building about crime.

People lurk and walk around the building, making workers uncomfortable.

A pokie machine has long existed next door to them, but he says people spilling on to the street and behaving unruly has become an increasing issue in the last 12 months.

Colleague Luisa Chavz echoes Mr Yim’s observations.

“Going outside even if it is just to have lunch, the people out there will start talking to you and I have seen people right outside the door downstairs doing drugs and it smells really strong.

It has led to her using an abstract strategy to avoid trouble when leaving work.

“Sometimes I pretend I am on the phone so they don’t speak to me – but at the same time they could grab my phone.

“I get nervous because you never know what could happen, it could just be someone trying to talk to you but I don’t trust anyone out there because they could be under some influence.”

Greater Dandenong council and other relevant stakeholders in the municipality including WAYSS and Launch Housing are working to reduce homelessness via a functional zero program.

The program follows a model that has been successful around the world which aims to sustainably end homelessness in a population.

Star Journal will provide more information about the program in the coming weeks.