Old Northampton Sacred Heart Convent offers urgent beds for cyclone-Seroja displaced locals

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Elise Van AkenGeraldton Guardian
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The Sacred Heart Convent in the heart of Northampton.
Camera IconThe Sacred Heart Convent in the heart of Northampton. Credit: Shire of Northampton/Supplied

Displaced Northampton residents can now rent beds at a heritage-listed building in the town after repairs were fast-tracked to the cyclone Seroja-damaged building.

Medium-term emergency accommodation became available earlier this week at the old Sacred Heart Convent, thanks to the Northampton Catholic Parish, the Geraldton Catholic Diocese, and the Shire of Northampton.

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The retired convent, built in 1919, was used as budget accommodation before it was damaged in April, and will be closed to tourists for the foreseeable future, with the building still requiring work to be fully restored.

Shire of Northampton chief executive Gary Keeffe said his team had contacted the Church to ask if it could hasten repairs to the convent so it could be opened to house people in need.

Applications for tenancy have opened to people whose homes became uninhabitable in the cyclone, with only single beds available for rent unless the dormitory-style rooms are converted.

Agricultural MLC Steve Martin said the move was a testament to the residents who had championed the cause and found a solution with their own time and resources.

“I’ve met with Deb Carson and the Northampton community group over the past six weeks, who’ve been proactive in finding the gaps in the government response and have actively been finding accommodation for locals.”

Wildflower season is about to start and everyone is still struggling to find accommodation for not just tourists but locals, builders and farm staff.

- Agricultural MLC Steve Martin.

He said with wildflower season about to start in the region, the State Government needed to ramp up its efforts to have enough accommodation available for displaced locals and visitors in the region.

“If this lockdown ends on Friday and we’ve got school holidays, Northampton is going to be flat out. People will want to head out somewhere warm,” he said.

“Wildflower season is about to start and everyone is still struggling to find accommodation for not just tourists but locals, builders and farm staff.

“I would like that response from the state and federal governments very quickly, it has been long enough.”

Accommodation inquiries can be made by contacting the Shire of Northampton or Deb Carson of the Northampton Community Resource Centre on 0409 467 507.

The Northampton Catholic Parish declined to comment.

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