Time for a plan to tackle homelessness in regional Western Australia

According to the recent Ending Homelessness in Western Australia 2022 report released by The Western Australian Alliance to End Homelessness, people living in rural and remote Western Australia experience homelessness at higher rates than people living in Perth and Mandurah.

People in Perth, Mandurah and Bunbury experience homelessness at a rate of 27.7, 26.8 and 25.9 people per 10,000 population respectively, whilst people in the Outback (North), Outback (South) and the Wheatbelt experience homelessness at a rate of 142.3, 73.2 and 31.8 per 10,000 population respectively.

“Shockingly, people experience homelessness in the Northern Outback at a rate 400% higher than they do in Perth,” said Shadow Minister for Housing, Steve Martin MLC.

“The reasons for homelessness are complex and varied, yet the lack of housing stock is a major part of the problem.

“Rental prices are continuing to increase while vacancies are still sitting at record lows.

“We have seen a continual decline in rental vacancies since the start of the pandemic, particularly in country WA,” said Mr Martin.

According to the Real Estate Industry of Western Australia, the Perth rental vacancy rate is sitting at 1.1%, while the average vacancy rate in Western Australia’s regional centres sits around 0.6%.

A balanced market would expect to see vacancy rates of around 3 to 4 percent, yet June data shows that Albany and Kalgoorlie have vacancy rates of 0.4%, and Busselton is sitting at 0.3%.

“The theme for this year’s Homelessness Week is ‘to end homelessness we need a plan’ – something that the current Labor Government has yet to figure out,” said Mr Martin.

“The Government are refusing to acknowledge how dire the housing and homeless crisis across the entirety of Western Australia is, let alone come up with a solid plan to end it.

“In fact, on the eve of Homelessness Week, the Housing Minister scrapped the Common Ground model, something that the government had previously recognised as a key component in the strategy to end homelessness.

“There are currently almost 34,000 people waiting for a placement in public housing who are facing upwards of a 2 year wait.

“Until the government come up with a tangible plan to tackle homelessness in communities across the entire state, we can expect to see weekly rental prices continue to climb, vacancy rates to sit at record lows and the number of the people on the public waitlist to increase.

“It’s time the McGowan Government address the housing crisis head on.”