New figures showing Western Australia is the rough sleeping capital in Australia are a damning indictment on the McGowan Government’s failure to provide housing for our most vulnerable.
The latest Census data shows more than 2300 were sleeping in improvised dwellings, tents or sleeping out in August 2021.
“In a State as prosperous as WA, it is appalling that there has been a 114 per cent increase in the number of people sleeping rough between 2016 and 2021,” Liberal WA Leader Libby Mettam said.
“WA has reported record surpluses of more than $11bn over the past two years yet we have 2315 people living in tents, improvised dwellings or sleeping out, including 116 children. It’s an absolute disgrace.
“The Housing Minister says he’s pulling every lever to improve social housing but the only lever that seems to have been pulled is the handbrake.
“We have more than 1800 social housing properties vacant with many like the block at Cromer Street, North Beach, sitting idle for years while thousands of Western Australians are resorting to tents.
“At the same time, the McGowan Government’s flagship homelessness project, East Perth Common Ground, is yet to even start, three years after the site was secured.”
Shadow Housing Minister Steve Martin said that while the shocking data released today shows a snapshot of how badly the housing crisis was affecting people back in August 2021 – it has only gotten worse.
“Keep in mind, this data was collected just a few months after the COVID-19 emergency measures and moratorium on evictions and rent increases ended,” Mr Martin said.
“Since then, the Perth rental vacancy rate has dropped to 0.7 per cent and the median price of a rental home has increased by $100 per week to $550.
“The number of people on the public housing waitlist has also increased by nearly 3,800 to almost 34,000, with 9,000 desperately seeking housing on the priority waitlist.
“If we add the recent increases in interest rates and other cost of living pressures into the mix, we can only assume the number of Western Australians sleeping rough has increased since this data was collected.
“We are lucky enough to live in a state with multiple budget surpluses thanks to sustained high iron ore prices so it’s not unreasonable to expect that the number of people who are able to keep a roof over their head should be improving, not getting worse.
“Labor has had six years to develop the social housing stock but inexplicably we have at least 300 less properties than 2017.
“The Housing Minister has been asleep at the wheel and now Western Australians are paying the price.”