The lights, cameras and crowds have finally cleared out of St Kilda following the auctions last month at the Gatwick Private Hotel, a run-down three-storey rooming house that was transformed into six multi-million-dollar apartments for this year’s season of the popular home renovation show, The Block.
But as the new owners collect the keys and prepare to move in to their luxury lodgings, ABC News can reveal an “alarming” number of women who used to live at the Gatwick — a place of “last resort” for some of Melbourne’s most vulnerable — are currently in jail.
Channel Nine’s purchase of the 1930s mansion, which in its prime could house up to 120 people, was welcomed last year by St Kilda residents who blamed the Fitzroy Street boarding house — one of several to close in recent years as part of the area’s gentrification — for local problems with “rampant” drug-fuelled violence and anti-social behaviour.
At the time, the local council and state government worked with housing services in St Kilda to find new accommodation, mostly outside the area, for its remaining occupants, who were evicted in time for filming to commence.
But many of those tenancies were unsustainable and fell through, homelessness support workers say, and because of an acute lack of crisis accommodation across Melbourne, dozens were dispersed onto the streets.
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