WA homelessness budget labelled ‘inadequate’


Social housing currently makes up 3.8 per cent of homes in WA, 83 per cent of which are managed by the state with the remaining 17 per cent by community housing. Picture credit: Pixabay

Plans to inject half a billion dollars into WA social housing and homelessness initiatives has been blasted as grossly inadequate by advocacy groups.

In the state budget papers just released, WA Premier Mark McGowan announced that $511 million has been set aside to boost housing supply, with plans to build around 700 new social homes across the state.

But peak advocacy group ShelterWA says ten times that was needed to deal with a ballooning social housing queue – listing 19,000 families as waiting for homes.

Current wait times for those on the list are 113.5 weeks, just more than two years, and 43 weeks, for those on the priority waitlist.

“The money will make a difference, but it should have been five to ten times more to be effective,” a ShelterWA spokesperson said.

Housing and homelessness minister John Carey said that the government is delivering a “record” investment, which also included an extra $48 million to expand the construction sector workforce.

“This latest funding boost will improve the quality and accessibility of housing for vulnerable Western Australians and increase our commitment to deliver 4,000 social housing properties,” Mr Carey said.

Opposition housing minister Steve Martin said the By-Name list recorded 846 people were sleeping rough in April, 127 more people than two months prior.

The By-Name list is a comprehensive list of every person in the community experiencing homelessness.

“No matter whether you’re forced into homelessness or are looking for housing in the private market, Mark McGowan’s housing crisis just goes from bad to worse,” Mr Martin said.

He said a social housing maintenance backlog, huge waitlists and the stalled Common Ground project in East Perth were proof that Labor is “all talk and no action”.

“Labor has sold off more homes than they have built, while the social housing waitlist has blown out to almost 34,000 (individual) Western Australians,” Mr Martin said.

“People are stuck on the waitlist for years, waiting for this government to deliver new homes.”

The ShelterWA spokesperson said that previous governments also failed in solving the issue.

“Successive governments did not have their finger on the pulse and haven’t had to think about it,” ShelterWA spokesperson said.