Labor plans increase in WA jobs – missed opportunity to drive economic and social growth

WA Labor’s Plan for Jobs released in advance of the state election suggests great promise for the future of the WA economy and people.

However, Labor have missed the opportunity to create new jobs through new investment into social and affordable housing, creating new opportunities for thousands of Western Australians.

Rental Crisis

“With 30,000 people on the wait list for social housing and a rental crisis looming at the end of March, housing investment is critical if we are to drive economic growth,” said Michelle Mackenzie, CEO of Shelter WA.

“Current investment in social housing will only deliver 870 properties, which does not replace the 1,155 social homes lost to our community over four years. We are going backwards.”

Shelter WA welcomed the party’s commitment to continue to invest in affordable housing options recognising that access to housing can be a barrier to staying in or moving to a regional community.

It is difficult to find or maintain a job if you can’t find a home, and it is smart to invest in the homes that people need to drive regional growth.

“Current investment in social housing will only deliver 870 properties,” said Ms Mackenzie.

Shelter WA Polling

“Whilst it’s positive to see the acknowledgment of the regional pressures, this package does nothing to address the social and affordable housing issues across the metropolitan area, including the supply of affordable rental homes for key workers,” said Ms Mackenzie.

Recent polling released by Shelter WA showed the community not only want more of a focus on housing and homelessness, but that these issues will have a strong influence on their vote this election. Nine in ten of people polled would support homelessness, social housing and affordable housing initiatives if they created new jobs, stimulated the WA economy, and/or improved the health, wellbeing and housing security of vulnerable Western Australians.

“Housing is critical infrastructure. Housing investment creates jobs, traineeships and pipelines of work. It also delivers social dividends and enduring value for the State,” said Ms Mackenzie.

“Everybody knows it is impossible to gain employment or maintain a job without a place to live. Good quality housing and housing design can improve the energy efficiency of homes, reducing carbon emissions and the cost of running a home. This is important to people on low incomes. Without an affordable place to live, economic recovery is just a pipe dream for thousands.”

The Unlock Housing campaign offers a pragmatic suite of short, medium and long-term solutions that respond to current pressures in the housing market and increases social and affordable housing supply over the next four years by harnessing new technologies, underutilised land and buildings and working in partnership with the community sector to facilitate new investment into housing supply.

“Housing is critical infrastructure”.

“Shelter WA’s Unlock Housing package will create 32,000 new jobs,” said Ms Mackenzie. “We urge all parties to adopt our package and unlock the potential of thousands of Western Australians and to keep us all safe and strong through investment into social and affordable homes.”

About Unlock Housing

Unlock Housing presents a united voice urging government to unlock the potential of all Western Australians. Shelter WA has developed the Unlock Housing campaign in partnership with the community sector, industry, and people with lived experience of homelessness with three core priorities that address the housing crises and sets us all up for a bright housing future. More information can be found at

Key Findings of the Polling:

  • The issues of homelessness, affordable rental housing and social housing will strongly influence around a third of voters at the WA state election.

– 65% stated the issue homelessness will be influential in their voting intention, with 39% reporting “very” or “extremely influential”.

– Just 15% of voters said the issues of homelessness was “not at all” influential.

– Younger voters are significantly most influenced by the lack of affordable housing with 38% of 18-34yos report lack of affordable rental housing will have a very or extremely influential impact on their vote.

  • Homelessness is among the top four issues the community would like the State Government to focus more upon.
  • More than one in ten Western Australians (12%) placed homelessness as their #1 issue. Only crime, cost of living, and climate change come out ahead. Housing affordability as a number one key issue was placed 7th.
  • Initiatives that would reduce homelessness and increase affordable rental and social housing are strongly supported.

– Over 4 in 5 would support initiatives that reduce the incidence of homelessness. (87% support) and increase the amount of affordable rental housing in WA (81%).

– Almost 3 in 4 (71%) would also support initiatives that increase the amount of social housing in WA (with only 4% strongly opposed).

  • Support increases even further when the economic and humanitarian benefits are highlighted. Nine in ten would support homelessness, social housing and affordable housing initiatives if they created new jobs, stimulated the WA economy, and/or improved the health, wellbeing and housing security of vulnerable Western Australians.

Key Facts:

  • Over 9,000 people experience homelessness every day in WA, including 1,000 people who are sleeping rough every night.
  • Over 420 people are known to be sleeping rough in the Perth and Fremantle regions today.
  • Over 4,100 people access specialist homelessness services every day.
  • Over 15,700 households (around 30,000 people) are on the wait list for social housing.
  • Net decrease of 1,155 social homes over the last four years.
  • There is a shortfall of 39,200 social and 19,300 affordable homes across Western Australia to meet current need.

View the Summary Document here.

Survey details:

The polling was conducted in February 2021 by Painted Dog Research group operating in line with the international standard for market, opinion and Social Research (ISO 20252). The sample size is n=612 with a survey error of 3.96% at the 95% level of confidence. All survey participants were over 18 years of age and include residents from the Perth metropolitan area in all upper house electorates.

Media Contacts

Karys Nella, Communications Consultant             0497 456 264

Michelle Mackenzie, CEO Shelter WA                   0419 931 819