Wave of Homelessness

This letter appeared in The West Australian on Thursday, 5 November. It is written by Michelle Mackenzie, the CEO of Shelter WA.

The news that rents are expected to jump 20 per cent early next year when the rental moratorium ends (News, 2/11) has likely sent a shock wave of terror through thousands of West Australian renters — just as it has for the organisations that provide support to those at risk of losing their home and becoming homeless.

Evictions Freeze

With a freeze on evictions and rental increases available, affordable rentals are already at an untenable low. Rightly so, the community is distressed by the lack of rental stock.

For those who need low-cost housing options, and will no longer be able to afford their rent, the outlook is more than bleak — it means the disruption of moving, taking their children out of their schools and bidding against other individuals and families for an affordable rental property.

If you can’t find an affordable rental, where do you live? With more than 14,000 people waiting for social housing support, the options aren’t great.

Lord Street, “Tent City”

Covering the Essentials

If this prediction becomes a reality, as a community, we must brace for an all mighty wave of homelessness. And in turn we will need a plan in place to deal with the fallout. Many people are only just managing to stretch their income to cover the essentials at the moment — there is absolutely no question the balancing act will end if people are forced to find even more money just for the privilege of a roof over their head.

There are countries around the world that have managed to create a strong, robust and affordable rental housing system. It’s time we pulled out all stops to follow their lead.

The Piece of the Puzzle

The COVID-19 pandemic taught us that we have to look out for each other in order to keep the entire community safe. We must act now to create more social and affordable housing options and invest in policies and services that prevent people from losing their rental homes. Many people feel helpless at this already confronting time. No one deserves to live with that sort of fear, or in the case of those who are already out in the cold, a lack of hope. Premier Mark McGowan, you have shown the world how great WA is at managing this dreadful disease, Now let’s show them how we deal with the fallout.

Ensuring every West Australian has a roof over their head, and a place to call home, is an important piece of the puzzle for keeping the entire community safe. It would add further weight to your mantra that WA is the best place on earth.