A newly formed Housing Emergency Response Group has released an open letter to the Premier on 6 May to convey their acute concern and four key priorities they are asking for to mitigate the impact and harm of the escalating housing crisis they are now calling an emergency.
“The housing crisis demands a whole of government response which so far has been missing. The immediate priority must be supporting people to remain in their rental homes and ensuring people who have had to leave their rental home are not exiting into homelessness.” Shelter WA Chief Executive Officer Michelle Mackenzie said.
“Services are seeing increasing levels of distress in the community and amongst their staff, and there is an acute concern for the welfare of children and women living in a family and domestic violence situation which they cannot escape.” Anglicare WA CEO Mark Glasson said.
“The current situation is placing an increasing number of renters and renter households, including children, at greater risk of mental ill health effects. Services also have significant concern about the ongoing mental health impact on staff responding to an overwhelming increase in demand and a sense of hopelessness.” WA Association of Mental Health CEOTaryn Harvey said.
“An urgent government response is needed because services are under growing pressure to support people in crisis and find housing which is simply not there.” WA Council of Social Service Louise Giolitto said.
Centrecare Inc’s Entrypoint serviceprovides assessment and referrals for people experiencing and at risk of homelessness has reported a significant surge in calls. “We’re getting thousands of calls a month with people desperate to find a home. We cannot keep up”. Centrecare Inc CEO Tony Pietropiccolo said.
The Group is calling on the government to focus on four priority areas:
- An emergency welfare response to the impact of the ending of the rental moratorium. This means the government must start working together with services.
- Surety of ongoing Emergency Relief funding, to keep people in their homes.
- Urgent identification and provision of housing and short to medium accommodation options including spot purchases, using suitable government land, and rapid construction of modular homes in partnership with the community housing sector; and
- A joint meeting with the Ministers for Housing, Communities, and Commerce to discuss a coordinated housing and services response during this period.
The Emergency Response Group have also compiled new data on the impact of the moratorium lifting.
“The Premier’s success and hard work over the COVID pandemic to keep Western Australians safe is strongly commended. COVID-19 has showed the importance of having a home to keep everybody safe and well. Housing is the foundation for a safe, strong and stable society, and provides the platform for opportunity for all West Australians. We see no end in sight without an emergency response and look forward to working with government on the solutions we’ve proposed today.” Michelle Mackenzie said.
- At May 2021, the median rent for houses is $440, having increase of 19 per cent in the last twelve months or $70 per week. The median rent for units is $390, having increased 15 per cent in the last 12 or $50 per week. (Source: REIWA 6 May 2021).
- There is a shortfall of 39,200 social and 19,300 affordable homes across WA.
- The WA rental vacancy rate is at a 40-year low.
- The WA rental market is unaffordable for low-income households with over 50 per cent of WA’s renters on low incomes in rental stress.
- There are over 30,000 people are on the wait list for social housing (15,825 applications on April 1, 2021) – an increase of 1000 applications in the last twelve months.
- The priority waitlist for social housing has increase by 46 per cent.
- Only 119 social housing properties were built in the last three years and in the last three years the number of social homes decreased by 1155 properties.
Tenants who require support can contact:
- Dept. Consumer Protection – for evictions and tenancy advice – 1300 304 054
- Circle Green Community Legal – for all tenancy advice – 6148 3636
- Financial Counsellors of WA – for financial counselling 9325 1617
- WAConnect.org.au – for emergency relief near you