Budget: Investment in social housing and homelessness a positive start to recovery

Shelter WA congratulates the McGowan Government on its fourth budget. Having a safe and secure home and building the homes so nobody is left behind is critical not only to keeping everybody safe but to drive economic and social recovery.

Social Housing

New investment through pre-announced packages will deliver maintenance, refurbishments and around 831 new social homes. This investment is very welcome, but more homes are needed to meet community need

Modelling estimatean additional 2,500 households are likely to apply for social housing if the unemployment rate increases to 8 per cent. That’s in addition to the 14,000 households already on the social housing wait list, said Michelle Mackenzie, CEO of Shelter WA. “We are concerned that the budget estimates the average social housing wait time will be 95 weeks. Increased investment is needed to address this. Also harnessing the community housing sector to increase supply.”

Remote Aboriginal Communities

We congratulate government on additional funding to deliver essential services to remote Aboriginal communities in light of the Commonwealth’s decision to stop support. Also, for investment in new Aboriginal short stay accommodation facilities in Kununurra and Geraldton. These are important initiatives that will improve health, wellbeing and quality of life.

Solar Panels

Housing remains the single largest cost for households in Western Australia with households on low incomes disproportionately impacted by the increasing cost of energyThe $6 million for solar panels on social housing properties is welcome and one we would like to see expanded.

COVID-19 and Renting

COVID-19 showed us housing insecurity remains real for the many Western Australians who have lost their jobs,” said Michelle.

The moratorium on evictions and rent freezes have been critical in preventing a new wave of homelessness, but they end in March. Shelter WA remains concerned about the lack of affordable rental options for people on low incomes, given the tight rental market and projected unemploymentGiven the small uptake of funds for Western Australian private residential tenants who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic Shelter WA would welcome revisiting the fund’s guidelines to better support tenants.

“Without a home everything else is wishful thinking.” – Michelle Mackenzie, CEO Shelter WA.

As a result of COVID-19, front line services have seen an increase in street present homelessness. We are pleased with investment for a new youth mental health, alcohol and other drug homelessness services, but know so much more is needed. Also with the investment into two Common Ground facilities and Housing First initiatives.

“We had hoped that this investment could have been brought forward and coupled with new investment for immediate solutions for people who are sleeping rough whilst these initiatives are developed,” said Michelle. “We look forward to discussing this with government.”

Homelessness

COVID-19 showed us a society that was comparing, compassionate and acutely impacted by housing insecurity and homelessness. How, where, why and for whom we create homes has profound implications for people, communities and our planet. Preventing homelessness is better, and more cost effective, than responding to homelessness. To drive recovery, we need to have a strong and diverse social and affordable housing system and the services people need to stay in their homes.

“COVID-19 reinforced the importance of a home to stay healthy and well. All people in Western Australia have a right to a home that enables them to thrive. “We urge the McGowan government to build on its important housing and homelessness initiatives to drive economic and social recovery – without a home everything else is wishful thinking.”

Fast Facts

  • Over 9,000 people experience homelessness every day across WA.
  • Over 4,300 people access specialist homelessness services every day.
  • Over 14,000 are on the wait list for social housing.
  • Over 6,000 people who live in insecure housing are at risk of homelessness.
  • The Perth residential vacancy rate is around 1.3 per cent.
  • There is a shortfall of 39, 200 social and 19,300 affordable homes across Western Australia to meet current need.

Read the 2020-21 Budget Papers here.

For media interviews with Michelle Mackenzie, CEO & Spokesperson of Shelter WA. Please contact Royceton Hardey via email here.

Royceton Hardey, Digital and Social Media Coordinator | Shelter WA | T: (08) 9325 6660.

Michelle Mackenzie | CEO of Shelter WA

About Shelter WA

Shelter WA brings together a strong coalition committed to diverse and affordable housing choice for all, with a particular focus on housing for people on very low to moderate incomes and groups that experience housing insecurity. Shelter WA undertakes research, engagement, policy development and strong advocacy to drive solutions to build an effective housing system and alleviate housing-related poverty. Our vision is that all people living in Western Australia have housing that enables them to thrive.