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Worsening housing crisis sees Shire of Augusta-Margaret River directly pitch to Housing Minister John Carey

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Acting Shire president Tracey Muir has met with Housing Minister John Carey.
Camera IconActing Shire president Tracey Muir has met with Housing Minister John Carey. Credit: Warren Hately/Augusta-Margaret R/Augusta-Margaret River Times

Frustration is mounting at the worsening housing crisis in the shire of Augusta-Margaret River, with key figures citing concerns Labor has written off the region as too wealthy to need help.

That Perth-centric view of the area – openly acknowledged as Perth’s playground – now needed a reality check and for the State Government to do far more to support the infrastructure and costs the region needs, council leaders say.

Acting Shire president Tracey Muir and acting chief executive Arthur Kyron held a Zoom meeting with Housing Minister John Carey on Wednesday where the local government pitched its urgent plea for greater State Government support for the local housing crisis.

That pitch included a pilot project to increase density in land owned by the Department of Communities as well as rolling out more tiny homes similar to a successful project based in Bunbury.

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Cr Muir told the Times many residents were struggling to find affordable rentals amid the cost-of-living squeeze and a lack of listings due to population growth.

“The perception is that Augusta-Margaret River is a wealthy region, but that’s not the reality for many people in our community,” the acting president said.

“Within the shire, we know we have around 150 people homeless and another 600 on brink of homelessness and under real financial stress.

“How many more people need to be homeless before the State will act?”

The Shire action occurred the same week news broke that local housing advocacy group Just Home Margaret River would cease its functions in anything but a strategic lobbying capacity due to ongoing inability to secure long-term funding.

After the meeting, Mr Carey declined to respond to the specific project options outlined by the Shire, pointing instead to the State Government’s investment in homelessness services.

“In the South West region, this financial year alone the State Government are investing more than $3.37 million in homeless services, providing crisis accommodation and supports for those experiencing homelessness,” he said.

The Minister was not informed about Just Home’s woes and said the not-for-profit would continue to be engaged as part of the State Government’s ongoing actions on the homelessness front.

Last week’s State Budget trumpeted $1.1 billion for housing and support services, including $400 million for social and affordable housing projects Statewide and $60 million for a Regional Community Housing Grants Program to support community housing providers.

The Times has requested a breakdown on that allocation to the Capes region which was not available before deadline.

Cr Muir stressed the need for emergency and affordable housing, as well long-term funding for social services, as communicated to Premier Roger Cook during a whistlestop meeting last month.

“The State’s investment in tourism and economic development in the region will be undermined if our community’s cultural fabric and cohesion continues to be stretched and eroded because there is no equivalent social investment,” Cr Muir said.

Since last year’s local government election, council leadership under Julia Meldrum and now-deputy Tracey Muir has significantly ramped up lobbying of State Government Ministers in conjunction with increased pressure on Shire staff to do the same.

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