15/10/2020 - 18:02

Affordability, diversity key

15/10/2020 - 18:02

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The state government’s new housing strategy aims to aims to deliver a 6 per cent net increase in social housing – adding 2,600 homes to the near 43,000 social homes in WA.

Affordability, diversity key
Since 2000 house prices in Perth have increased more than 200 per cent, with the minimum wage only increasing by about 92 per cent. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

The state government’s new housing strategy aims to aims to deliver a 6 per cent net increase in social housing – adding 2,600 homes to the near 43,000 social homes in WA.  

Housing Minister Peter Tinley launched the WA Housing Strategy 2020-2030 yesterday at an industry breakfast, yesterday, outlining a mix of initiatives to help reach its target of connecting 150,000 households to a home by 2030.

“Since 2000, house prices in Perth have increased more than 200 per cent, with the minimum wage only increasing by about 92 per cent,” Mr Tinley told event attendees.

“Even before COVID-19, one in five Western Australian households were estimated to need some form of housing assistance from the government.

“We now face an increased demand for rentals, with vacancy rates the lowest in over a decade; prices have been pushed up particularly in the affordable end of the market putting more pressure on social housing.”

The Department of Communities is developing three plans to support implementation of the Strategy; the Affordable Housing Implementation Plan, due for completion later this year, will set the agenda and articulate the roles and responsibilities in relation to affordable housing delivery; The Social Housing Framework (expected to be launched in mid-2021) will consider how to create a more agile social housing system to respond to changing housing needs; and the Regional and Remote Housing Implementation Plan will assess the individual needs and characteristics of each region, due to be rolled out in late 2021.

To reach the 150,000 households connected to a home target by 2030, the strategy calls for a more diverse rental sector to support 130,000 households to access a private rental home.

It also sets a target for a six per cent net increase in social housing - adding 2,600 homes to the 42,932 social homes in WA.

“This strategy is not just about building houses. It is about providing the right information, education and support to help people access and sustain a suitable and affordable home that meets their needs.” Mr Tinley said.

“We need to move beyond the old mentality that just because you’re in need of housing assistance that you need a public house – we need to actually talk about all the circumstances that bring you to that point in filling in an application form for a public house, and what we can do to assist.”

HIA WA executive director Cath Hart said the strategy set out a long-term vision to tackle the housing challenges across the housing continuum.

“Recent HIA research shows that while 92 per cent of renters aspire to own their own homes, only 49 per cent feel they will actually achieve this goal - this strategy aims to help alleviate some of the concerns for every Western Australian who has had doubts about their ability to own a home,” she said.

““We know that for many West Australians their dream of building and owning a home can be affected by limited affordable and suitable properties.

“Accessible housing is another key focus area, with a target to provide a minimum of 20,000 low-deposit home loans through Keystart to enable greater access to home ownership by 2030.“

UDIA WA chief executive Tanya Steinbeck said affordable housing was difficult to access due to a lack of supply. 

“The impact of COVID-19 on people’s employment stability and the broader economy is putting even more pressure on our social and affordable housing stocks and that is likely to continue for several more years,” she said.

“Now that this overarching strategy has been released, the focus must turn to implementation and the practical and financial requirements to ensure the government reaches the targets outlined in the document.  

“The strategy refers to funds as part of the recent stimulus packages, however in order to meet the set targets including increased social housing stock and increased numbers of Keystart loans, further direct funding will be required.

“I look forward to the release of the associated implementation plans and hope that they will address the necessary financial commitments in more detail.”

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