Fremantle Beach Street Hostel
Owned by Giacomino (Jack) Fazio's company, Able Lott Holdings Pty Ltd, this hostel was a cheap place to live.
Rent in cash. It's about $100 a week. We don't keep receipts or bonds, so pay what you can.
No questions asked.
It's kinda like a jail. You'll get used to it.
I was fortunate enough to meet a young man in his mid-40’s, wandering around a Fremantle carpark one sunny afternoon. It was clear he’d lost his way in life but at the same time, he turned out to be a local with the answers to my questions.
The man was previously a tenant in the Fremantle Beach Hostel before it closed down and yes, he still had access to the building. The front gate was dummy locked with a thick chain, which he removed to let me in. The man of few words then headed back across the road, giving me the freedom to explore on my own.
The building contains small concrete rooms with single windows facing a half-finished interior chamber. Old building materials, rubbish, broken furniture and appliances fill the bottom. Just like in the photos, some five-and-a-half years later!
Stairs run like a maze! Two separate set of stairs located in close proximity of each other, lead you to two different locations, whilst other sets nearby, also run in different directions without connecting.
Most windows in the rooms are boarded up. Only the rooms facing the street enjoy natural light and fresh air. There's no light fixtures in the room so unless you've got a lamp, torch or a candle, the room becomes pitch black.
When you step out of your room, the pitch black of the night continues. There's no fixed lights on the landings or on the stairs.
There's only one toilet to service all the tenants and it's on the top floor. The downstairs one has been smashed to pieces.
No fire hydrants, no smoke detectors, no alarms of any sort, no emergency lighting and the only two exits on either side of the front, are steel gates which are padlocked at night.
But on Friday 19 June 2015, the Fremantle council issued an emergency eviction notice to all tenants on the grounds that, “the property is unsafe as it does not meet basic fire, safety and health requirements for the occupation of the buildings”.
Tenants were given four days to pack up and go. For some, all their worldly possessions were contained in their small concrete boxes which were too much to carry, particularly if they didn't have a car. The only assistance given to the residents, was a list of crisis accomodation centres in the area. Being winter at the time, it was likely that none of the centres had vacancies!
Much of the property was illegally built and throughout the years, Jack Fazio had been prosecuted a number of times. In fact, he was even listed on the Western Australian Attorney General's website as the second-biggest fine defaulter, owing $248,490.
For many residents, despite the horrible state of the property and living conditions, they felt no choice but to live there. At least they were safe.
Interestingly, Able Lott Holdings Pty Ltd had a liquidation status appointed on 01 August 2013, so perhaps this hostel was a ticking time bomb regardless.
Jack Fazio's Artwork