The Western Australian Council of Social Service (WACOSS) and Shelter WA have welcomed the State Government’s announcement today of a $24.4 million funding initiative aimed at combating the unsustainable rental crisis that our State is facing.
WACOSS, Shelter WA and their members have been working with the State Government to introduce a program to support vulnerable households and have been advocating for the creation of a scheme to assist WA renters.
The Government’s announcement of the Rent Relief Program will greatly assist Western Australians at risk of eviction and experiencing rental arrears.
Under the program, Anglicare WA, Vinnies WA and their partners will collaborate to identify tenants in need through their existing services and networks and will assist those tenants in applying for relief.
For some tenants, this relief will come in the form of paying for arrears while for others, support will also be provided to cover up to 50 per cent of future rent costs for three months’ rent, with total support provided capped at $5,000.
For so many Western Australians, the cost of living increases have become overwhelming, and rental hikes have made some of the biggest financial impacts. For two years, WA rental prices have been on an unsustainable incline in an overheated market.
Available rentals have decreased by 16 per cent since 2022 alone, with the median rent price of $560 per week now well out of reach for most households on income support or minimum wage.
This Rent Relief Program will be vital to providing support for tenants and keeping them in their homes until the market cools.
Shelter WA Chief Executive Officer Kath Snell said:
“We are thrilled the Cook Government is providing funding for this program which will support 13,000 Western Australians. The program is based on successful models in other states and will provide essential financial cover needed for those in our community that are most at risk.
“The Government has committed to end rough sleeping by 2025 under its 10-year strategy on ‘Homelessness 2020-2030 All Paths Lead to a Home’.
“Today’s announcement is a much needed and strongly welcomed step towards achieving that goal, by providing a safety net to thousands of renters who may have been facing homelessness.
“This is going to support thousands of families out of rent arrears and provide some welcome relief amidst a cost-of-living crisis.
“Shelter WA and WACOSS have been advocating tirelessly for this initiative, and we are absolutely celebrating that the State Government has heard and understood the needs of the community at such a difficult time for so many of WA’s renters.
“This lifeline for people is going to really support the people in our community who are struggling, and in doing so will help prevent more people falling into homelessness. This is a really important preventative measure for our community.
“This is a win for the sector and for our community, and we are very thankful.”
WACOSS Chief Executive Officer Louise Giolitto said:
“Rents have been continuing to skyrocket in the private rental market which is leaving low income families in severe financial stress and increasing the waitlist for social housing.
“The State Government is doing what it can to boost social housing supply but we simply can’t build houses quick enough.
“There is no one silver bullet but this short term solution is vital to keeping families in their homes, avoid homelessness and enable sustainable financial planning while other housing initiatives come online.
“We commend the Cook Government for activating every lever available to make housing more affordable.”