Minister will give thought to housing crisis

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Member for Perth John Carey.
Camera IconMember for Perth John Carey. Credit: Kelsey Reid/The West Australian, Kelsey Reid Picture: Kelsey Reid

WA’s new housing minister has vowed to “carefully consider” an advocate group’s call for more tangible action to help address the region’s housing crisis.

Before the March election, Just Home Margaret River compiled a detailed list urging Government action to help shire residents facing homelessness and eviction as rents soared and the Capes swelled, with new residents snapping up homes.

As well as more funding for the not-for-profit group, Just Home’s chairwoman Naomi Godden, also a Shire of Augusta-Margaret River councillor and social worker, argued for much greater investment in social housing within the region.

Just Home wants 200 new public or affordable homes provided, as well as more aged-care places given the number of seniors using beds at Margaret River Hospital and a long-running delay in clearing 13 vacant units at Mirrambeena for low-income earners.

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Dr Godden also urged the Government to make 20 per cent social and affordable housing a requirement for future big residential developments.

Housing Minister John Carey expressed his appreciation for the group’s advocacy and pointed to the WA Government’s review of vacant and neglected housing stock — none of which is within the Augusta-Margaret River shire.

“I am acutely aware of the challenges in the property market, and have requested the Department of Communities review current programs to ensure we are maximising the availability of social housing stock for those that need it most,” Mr Carey said.

Labor also supported renters during the pandemic with a relief scheme, extended funding to first homebuyer scheme Keystart, and supported growth in new homes through the Building Bonus grant.

Mr Carey, pictured, said for the five months to the end of January, new home building applications had almost doubled compared with the previous period.

Twenty new social housing properties were scheduled for the South West, though locations within the shire were not yet confirmed.

Mr Carey declined to comment directly on hopes to develop a social housing eco-village on disused ex-Water Corporation land on Terry Road, reported last week by the Times.

“I understand Just Home is working with Lotterywest and the local Shire on a funding proposal, and the Department of Communities has been liaising with them and Lotterywest in regard to their application,” the minister said.

The Government had set aside $6 million to co-fund local government projects to address homelessness.

“The aim of this fund ... is to facilitate State and local government partnerships that involve local decision makers driving responses that are tailored to their area,” he said.

Shire president Ian Earl said the Terry Road site had too many challenges, and calls for 200 social housing places were unrealistic.

“The building industry is operating at capacity, and a push to rapidly build houses will only cause the prices to go through the roof,” he said.

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