WA's 10 year strategy to address social and affordable housing

Image by Shutterstock.
Image by Shutterstock.

Housing Minister Peter Tinley launched a 10 year housing strategy for Western Australia that will deliver a new direction for housing in the state in the coming decade.

The WA Housing Strategy 2020-2030, was launched at an event hosted by the Urban Development Institute of Australia and the Housing Industry Association, with representatives from the housing not-for-profit sector.

The strategy highlighted that one in five (200,000) Western Australian households needed some form of housing assistance, and that by 2030 an additional 45,000 would need help.

In 2019, more than 13,700 applications were received for social housing.

Since 2000, wages had doubled however housing prices had tripled and over the last 30 years the average time people spent in public housing had doubled.

As part of the 10 year strategy the state government has committed $142 million to refurbish 1,500 of WA's housing stock.

An additional $80 million has been committed to maintain 3,800 properties in regional WA and another $6 million to refurbish 20 regional homes.

The state government has also committed $97 million to build or buy 250 dwellings in both the metro and regional areas.

The Regional and Remote Housing Implementation Plan is due to be rolled out in late 2021.

Housing Minister Peter Tinley said in the past 20 years, WA's housing market has struggled more and more to meet the needs of people on low-to-moderate incomes and those with specific housing needs.

"These programs combined are expected to support 4,300 jobs and potentially generate almost $1.8 billion in economic activity," he said.

Last week, WA church leaders gathered for Anti-Poverty Week to consider what drives and sustains poverty in Australia.

Uniting Church WA moderator Susy Thomas welcomed the housing strategy and commitment to increase social housing but expressed concern about the government's budget surplus when people where doing it tough.

"The Uniting Church, along with all churches, has always had concern for people experiencing poverty and everyday our care agencies see the impacts homelessness has on people's health and wellbeing," she said.

"We are very grateful for the leadership displayed during the pandemic, but it is still troubling to us that the WA Government is choosing to retain a $1.2 billion surplus when there are people who do not even have a roof over their heads," she said.

Ms Thomas was keen to express her gratefulness for a number of the Government's initiatives on housing and homelessness, but questioned the need for such a large surplus when there are Western Australians in poverty.

"We welcome the commitments that have been made to reduce household energy costs, support remote communities and provide some new social housing. That is all very positive and fits with our vision for a fair and equal society. We want to encourage those efforts, however, we find it difficult to justify the retention of more than a billion dollars when there are people who are sleeping rough.

"We have significant numbers of people accessing homelessness services and the waitlist for social housing in WA has 14,000 people on it. Now is not the time to save for a rainy day - for people on the street, it is already raining."