Social Housing investment welcomed as a step in the right direction

Peak housing and homelessness body Shelter WA congratulates the Minister for Housing and the McGowan Government on new social housing investment to deliver new social homes across WA.

Peak body Shelter WA welcomed the social housing package as a much-needed boost to the thousands of families waiting for social housing.

“We congratulate the Minister on his commitment to social housing demonstrated through this package,” Shelter WA CEO Michelle Mackenzie said today.

“1,300 social homes have been lost to the social housing system over the last four years, and it’s great news that government has reversed this trend.”

“It is fantastic that the government has listened to the WA community who understand the benefits of everybody having a place to call home and demonstrated overwhelming support for new investment into social housing,”

said Ms Mackenzie.

“Also, it’s pleasing that the package has a range initiatives including spot purchasing homes, utilising modular and pre-fabricated construction and using government owned land to deliver new social homes,” Ms Mackenzie said. “With the current delivery challenges in our overheated building and construction market, counter-cyclical investment and planning for pipelines of work as the market cools is a smart approach.”

“Housing stress has continued to increase with the wait-list sitting at around 17,000 households. The commitment to spot purchasing homes as an immediate boost will provide a great relief to some people desperately waiting for a safe, secure home.”

“We look forward to seeing more details of this package when the State budget is released and how the funding will flow over the next four years. Also, we would love to see other positive housing initiatives in the budget such as expanding the Smart Energy For Social Housing trial which saved households hundreds of dollars by using renewable energy technologies, and increased support for low income renters in the private rental market whilst these new social homes are being built.

“We also are keen to understand how government will partner with community housing sector to leverage and maximise this investment, not only to deliver great housing outcomes for people, but to leverage new investment into the social and affordable housing system.

“This announcement aligns with the recommendations of Foundations for a Stronger Tomorrow, the draft State infrastructure Strategy, and the critical role of social and affordable housing in economic and community participation,” Ms Mackenzie said.

“Overall, this social housing package is very welcome, and we hope is the start of a longer-term government commitment to social housing investment in partnership with our sector, so all people in WA have housing that enables them to thrive,”

Ms Mackenzie concluded.

Fast facts:

  • At 30 July 2021 there were 17,320 households or over 30,000 people on the social housing waitlist, including 3,312 in receipt of a disability support pension or payment and 3,478 priority applicants (Parliamentary Questions 580 and 532).
  • In 2019, there was an estimated shortfall of 39,200 social and 19,400 affordable homes across WA to meet demand (UNSW City Futures).
  • The Perth rental vacancy rate at June 2021 was 1.2 per cent. In Broome it was 0.6 per cent, Albany 0.8 per cent and Bunbury 0.6 per cent. Typically, a vacancy rate between 2.5 and 3.5 per cent represents a balanced market. (REIWA) meaning that there is an acute undersupply of private rental properties.
  • It is estimated over 9000 people experience homelessness in WA (ABS 2016).

Polling:

The results from the independent Homelessness, Housing and Rental Affordability Community Perceptions poll commissioned by Shelter WA and conducted in June 2021 found:

  • 77 per cent of the community feel that the current housing conditions in WA are a serious social issue.
  • Over half ranked housing and rental affordability and homelessness in the top five issues they’d like to see the state government focus on it its upcoming budget – placing it behind only the public health system and the cost of living.
  • Over eight in ten would support an investment of $1 billion each year for the next four years to providing accommodation for people experiencing homelessness (82 per cent support), providing housing for families on the social housing waiting list (81 per cent support) and building more affordable rental homes (80 per cent).
  • 8 per cent of those surveyed had personally experienced homelessness and another 18 per cent had a friend or family member who has experienced homelessness, and another 14% had personally had a rent increase or eviction notice and another 35 per cent have had a friend or family member receive a rent increase or eviction notice.

Media Contact: Chantal Caruso 0447 201 377.