PERTH, AAP – Pressure to build more social housing in Western Australia is set to continue despite the promise of a major investment in the upcoming state budget.
The McGowan government will build 3300 new social homes over the next four years, including existing projects.
Thursday’s state budget will include $875 million for the sector, including $228 million for projects to increase housing stock in the short term.
The government is expected to deliver a record $5 billion surplus this financial year.
There are about 17,000 people on the waitlist for public housing, which has grown since a moratorium on rental evictions ended in March.
That number is unlikely to significantly ease in the immediate future.
About 1400 of the new social homes will be delivered in the next two years and the remaining 1900 in the two years that follow.
The staggered delivery is partly due to the heated construction market, with about 27,000 building approvals granted over the last 12 months.
“What I’ve done as the minister is … look ahead to (ensure) in two years time, when the property boom is starting to decline, that we have new construction work for the sector,” Housing Minister John Carey told reporters.
About 1300 homes have been removed from the state’s social housing stocks over the last four years after being deemed unsuitable for use.
Advocates have welcomed the new investment but say it won’t go far enough to resolve the acute demand for housing among the most vulnerable, despite recent government investments in short-term accommodation options.
At least 56 homeless people died in Perth last year, according to recent figures released by the University of Western Australia. It’s claimed up to 10 Aboriginal people died on the streets of Perth during the recent winter months.
Veteran housing advocate Betsy Buchanan on Monday welcomed the government’s response after a lengthy campaign for more social housing.
“It is a relief to see the government finally reintroduce this crucial policy, and I am relieved to see our calls have not gone unheeded,” she said.