Cottages back in the stock

Housing minister John Carey and policy adviser Emma Colombera at one of the refurbed cottages. Image supplied.

LONG-EMPTY social housing in East Perth has been refurbished and reopened, with seven Federation-era cottages in the Parry Street heritage precinct getting $3 million in conservation works.

Some have been empty for more than seven years (“Running on empty,” Voice, July 21, 2018). 

Locals were tired of seeing the old places vacant and crumbling while homeless people slept in nearby Weld Square park, or on the porches of the empty homes. 

Housing minister John Carey acknowledged they’d been empty a long while (some during the previous government’s term), but said it took time to carry out assessments and prioritise refurbishments to get as much social housing stock back onto the market as possible, and the repairs were pretty extensive.

“Often people think with refurbishing social housing, it’s a lick of paint. It’s not,” Mr Carey said. “There can be serious damage, and when we’re talking about refurbishment costs, it can be very expensive.”

“It is always a difficult challenge, considering heritage properties, because I’m trying to get as much social housing back into the system, and it becomes a question of opportunity cost,” refurbishing the old or building new.

“It takes time to make that assessment … in this case the assessment was ‘these are a great location, they’re heritage properties, and could still be used for social housing’.

Their location near public transport, health and support services made them especially fitting.

The homes aren’t individually heritage listed but they’re in the Parry Street heritage precinct on the state register, marking an area that sprang up on the city’s fringes after the 1890’s goldrush.

The cottages needed various structural works, reinstatement of missing brickwork, termite removal, new electrics, and new kitchen, bathroom and laundry fit outs. Then the lick of paint.

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