Whilst the budget back into surplus, affordable housing supply remains in deficit

Shelter WA congratulates the McGowan Government on the release of its third state budget and the return to surplus but is disappointed that more action hasn’t been taken to ensure everybody has a place to call home.

Treasurer Ben Wyatt highlighted that this budget is all about responsible financial management, the continuation of existing service delivery and a key focus on keeping household charges at the lowest levels in years. However, there is no significant commitment to new investment in social housing and homelessness services. This will impact on people’s lives.

Shelter WA CEO Michelle Mackenzie said, “Whilst the targeted housing stimulus package through Keystart is welcome, this package won’t provide affordable housing for the thousands of people in WA in housing stress. The average waiting time for social housing is projected to increase from 93 to 120 weeks. We are concerned that the Youth Supported Accommodation Assistance Program is not funded in the estimates and that funding for homelessness services hasn’t significantly increased.”

The new investment of $7.5 million in Precinct Planning is positive creating the opportunity for inclusive and diverse communities within METRONET. Shelter WA welcomes the funding across the forward estimates to implement the Strata Titles Amendment Bill 2018 and Community Titles Bill 2018 presenting new opportunities to develop more diverse housing solutions. However, we are disappointed that despite the surplus, there is no increase in social housing investment delivered through the Metronet Social and Affordable Housing and Jobs Package.

Positive budget initiatives include an ongoing commitment for the North-West Aboriginal Housing Fund, and $47 million of funding for the National Rental Affordability Scheme across the forward estimates. Also new investment of $1.6 million for a culturally appropriate housing facility for Aboriginal people and their families travelling from regional areas to receive care at Perth metropolitan hospitals, and funding for a Home First Model of Care and “Frequent Flyer” Program, through the Sustainable Health Review.

And whilst there are no increases to stamp duty or land taxes, this budget has missed the opportunity to pursue meaningful reform of state property taxes which are a barrier to home ownership, downsizing and labor mobility.

The Government’s intention to review the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 is positive, however we are surprised, that the budget papers don’t signal the significant work in developing a state homelessness strategy or the development of a new affordable housing strategy.

The budget outlines the development of community and industry education to support the implementation of new legislation in the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 which enables victims of family and domestic violence to have a safe and secure home. This is positive.

So, whilst there are some welcome initiatives in this budget, we are disappointed that despite the budget surplus, at the lack of investment to ensure that everybody in WA has a place to call home. 

Media Contact: Michelle Mackenzie, CEO: 0419 931 819.

Michelle Mackenzie, CEO of Shelter WA speaks to the media.

Click here to read the Budget Papers.