New national data from the 2021 ABS Census shows the proportion of people who own their own home outright has dropped to 30 per cent, down from 40 per cent in 1996.
In the same time period, households with a mortgage increased from 26 per cent to 35 per cent. Similarly in Western Australia, 29.2 per cent owned their property outright, 40 per cent owned with a mortgage, and 27.3 per cent of the population were renting.
The Census shows that 28.3 per cent of renters and 13 per cent of owners with a mortgage in WA were paying more than 30 per cent of their household income on housing costs, which is commonly understood to be an indicator of housing stress. The data reiterates the need for ongoing and significant co-investment by state and federal governments to increase the stock of social and affordable housing, in partnership with the community housing sector.
The 2021 Census also identified over a million vacant properties nationwide, including 118,109 in Western Australia. Whilst we understand there are several reasons that properties are vacant on Census night, the scale of the figure suggests greater government intervention is required to unlock existing supply, for example via consideration of a vacancy tax and/or greater monitoring and regulation of the short stay accommodation market to protect localised housing availability and affordability.
Shelter WA will continue to advocate for secure and affordable housing options for people across all tenures, including those experiencing homelessness. The next tranche of Census data will be released in October. The 2021 Census Estimates of Homelessness are expected in early to mid-2023.