All Western Australians should have access to affordable, appropriate and sustainable housing, particularly those vulnerable to homelessness and housing stress.
The current difficulties in accessing affordable housing and the need to address homelessness were consistently raised as key priorities in our consultations with community service organisations across WA in 2012. These consultations found that the areas of greatest concerns include the growing rates of homelessness, the lack of crisis and transitional accommodation, access to social housing, and the availability and affordability of private rentals in regional centres and the metropolitan area.
The 2011 Census found that 42.3 per 10,000 people in WA were homeless.
While the growing lack of affordable housing in WA is a significant factor, the correlation between homelessness, poverty and complex need is increasingly apparent. Women are the majority users of homelessness services in WA- escaping family and domestic violence is the major cause.
Crisis & transitional accommodation
Community services organisations recognise the ‘housing first’ principle — that the provision of safe, affordable and secure housing is a fundamental, first step in being able to addressing disadvantage and other areas of need being faced by many Western Australians.
Access to social housing
Increased investment in social housing should be the top priority for Western Australian governments, and while the provision of transitional and crisis accommodation and support services are critical, these should not be seen as an alternative to investing in more houses.
The cost of affordable rental accommodation has emerged as the number one contributor to financial stress in low-income households. This suggests that much of the recent increases in levels of financial stress and default, utilities hardship and demand for emergency relief services, can be understood as a product of transferred housing stress.
The median rental price for Perth has risen to over $470 per week and the rental vacancy rate has dropped below 1.2%.
The cost of housing in WA has risen to a point where owning your own home is increasingly beyond the reach of the average working family.
• Significant increase in investment in social housing, including new public and community housing;
• Increase provision of housing for community workers and other essential services in regional areas;
• Strategies to improve housing provision in rapidly growing regional communities;
• Support vulnerable groups to secure & sustain housing;
• Provide community service support for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness;
• Increase provision of crisis and transitional accommodation;
• Provide subsidised access to private rental as a transitional accommodation strategy; and
• Introduce inclusionary zoning policies.
Printed and Authorised by Irina Cattalini. 2 Delhi Street, West Perth. WA 6005.