Figures reveal McGowan Government’s Urban Connect program way off track

The extent of the McGowan Labor Government’s housing crisis has been further highlighted overnight, with the release of embarrassing figures revealing Keystart’s Urban Connect Loan Scheme has delivered just eleven successful home loan applications since it was launched last year.

The Urban Connect Loan scheme was launched in July 2022, commencing with a two-year pilot program capped at three hundred loans, designed to encourage Western Australians on lower to middle incomes to buy houses near transport hubs.

In response to questions in Parliament, the government admitted that only 11 loans had been approved under Urban Connect, as the halfway mark of the program approached.

Shadow Housing Minister Steve Martin said the result showed McGowan Government talked a big game when it came to housing around public transport, but its results told a different story.

“Despite being available in over 120 suburbs across Perth, Labor’s Urban Connect has provided just 11 loans in its first 10 months,” Mr Martin said.

“It would need 20 loan approvals each month to hit the cap by the time Urban Connect is due to end in July 2024.

“In fact, it would need to approve as many loans per month as it has currently approved in total to reach just half of that cap.

“With the government’s own budget papers saying they expect less first home buyer activity next year, even they must know Urban Connect won’t be a success,” Mr Martin added.

Shadow Minister for Metronet Tjorn Sibma said that political assumptions about Metronet had blinded the government to market realities in the construction sector.

“Many of the bold predictions about Metronet unlocking and creating new high-density developments have not come to pass and are unlikely to be realised in the future due to soft private sector appetite,” Mr Sibma said.

“In areas where investment and development does stack up, the delivery of new housing stock within Metronet precincts has been hampered by delays in the rollout of new lines and new stations, all of which should have been delivered in 2023 according to the original concept.”

Mr Martin said changes to Urban Connect’s eligibility criteria announced in last week’s state budget was an acknowledgement that the program was failing, but also proved the McGowan Labor Government doesn’t understand first homebuyers.

“Keystart was established to get people with low deposits through the door, often for people buying their first home.

“At this stage, opening eligibility to one-bedroom apartments and off-the-plan sales won’t see a significant uptake of this program because these changes don’t cater for demand from your typical first homebuyer.

“The government will blame its usual culprits, being construction costs and interest rate rises. But these numbers show that Urban Connect was never designed properly in the first place. Last week’s changes won’t make much of a dent, while rental prices soar, and public housing waitlists blow out.

“Six years into this government, the results are clear. Under Labor, you’re waiting longer for private housing and longer for public housing,” Mr Martin concluded.