Western Australia needs to be prepared for a second wave of homelessness due to the impact of COVID, warns Shelter WA CEO Michelle Mackenzie.
Speaking during Homelessness Week, Ms Mackenzie said it is only a matter time before things started to get even more difficult for people on low and moderate incomes leading to increased housing insecurity and stress.
“Some people are currently only able to afford their home because of the current JobKeeper or JobSeeker allowance, but as the time for these to end draws closer, we are going to see an increase of people in poverty, housing stress and homelessness, she said. “Just as confronting is the looming end of the moratorium on evictions and mortgage relief. With this, we are predicting many Western Australians may face the prospect of becoming homeless.”
Ms Mackenzie said Western Australia had been hit hard by job losses. And whilst JobSeeker has had the significant benefit of lifting some people out of poverty the opposite was the case for many JobKeeper recipients. Their loss of income has led to increased rental and mortgage stress. Our members are seeing a new group of people who have not had prior contact with welfare services requiring housing assistance, and we can only see this need growing, said Ms Mackenzie.
“Supporting people doing it tough delivers positive social and economic outcomes and benefits the whole community,” said Ms Mackenzie.
With low vacancy rates in the private rental market, thousands of people on the wait list for social housing, a lack of emergency accommodation options and people saddled with rental and mortgage debt as a result of COVID we are facing a housing crises.
“The impact on homelessness services, who were stretched to capacity prior to COVID, and the people they work with will be dire, said Ms Mackenzie.
“It is clear that we will be facing the impact of COVID for a long time to come. Increased investment into new social and affordable housing options as well as homelessness services will prevent a new wave of homelessness said Ms Mackenzie. This will not only support people in need but will drive the State’s economic and social recovery effort.
- It’s estimated over 9,000 West Australians experience homelessness every night.
- Of these 1,083 people were sleeping rough and 1,208 were under twelve years of age.
- Specialist Homelessness Services support around 4,300 people every day across WA.
- 2 out of 3 requests for accommodation via specialist homelessness services are currently unable to be met.
- 5-per cent of rough sleepers reported that they had been a victim of assault since they had become homeless.
- The top three reasons people sought assistance from specialist homelessness services were:
- 42 per cent due to domestic and family violence.
- 38 per cent due to financial difficulties.
- 25 per cent housing crisis.
- There are over 14,000 households on the waitlist for social housing in WA – with an average wait time of over 2.5 years.
- There are only 1,144 crisis and transitional beds available in WA.
- Shortfall of 32,000 social homes to meet current need.
To arrange an interview with our CEO Michelle Mackenzie, please contact Heather Bush, Head of Communications and Marketing here.