Housing cash hits the spot

Housing minister John Carey announces the funding.

THE WA government will spot-purchase homes, convert mixed stock to more social housing and expand the upcoming Common Ground facility in an effort to put a dent in the number of homeless people on the housing waitlist. 

Ahead of the March 2021 election, homeless advocacy group ShelterWA called on the government to spot-purchase 2000 homes to soften the end of the eviction moratorium. 

The McGowan government last week announced $40 million to purchase homes as part of an overall $875m injection into social housing in the budget. 

Market

Housing minister John Carey says “where there is need, we’ll go into the market and purchase,” but he told us “we’d want to be very careful” to not inflate housing prices. 

“If we went into a regional community or a particular suburb and said we want to purchase a large number of homes, you’re competing against other buyers, so you’d lift the price.

While it’s fewer homes than they’d hoped, ShelterWA welcomed the move with CEO Michelle Mackenzie putting 

out a statement saying “it is fantastic that the government has listened to the WA community who understand the benefits of everybody having a place to call home and demonstrated overwhelming support for new investment into social housing.

“Housing stress has continued to increase with the wait-list sitting at around 17,000 households. The commitment to spot purchasing homes as an immediate boost will provide a great relief to some people desperately waiting for a safe, secure home.”

With the construction industry busy building swank renos with federal Covid grant cash, a lot of the $522m is scheduled for 2022-23 once the tradies are freed up again.

Ms McKenzie acknowledged “with the current challenges in our overheated building and construction market, counter-cyclical investment and planning for pipelines of work as the market cools is a smart approach”.

In the meantime some projects that were intended to have a small portion of social housing homes amid a majority of affordable private housing will be rejigged to have more social housing.

The funding also covers expanding the number of units in the upcoming Common Ground self-contained supported living complex in East Perth, going from 70 spots to 112.

The extra $875m brings the social housing portion of the budget to $2.1b.

Mr Carey says “this is the biggest social housing investment in the state’s history, and I’m really proud as the new minister for housing to be driving a program to accelerate the delivery of social housing”.

by DAVID BELL

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