Call for more affordable housing

Yanchep is just one area in WA where there is limited social and affordable housing. File picture

ACCORDING to Shelter WA, which has been calling for a better social and affordable housing system in WA, there are only 14 Housing Authority homes in Yanchep.

Spokesman Stephen Hall said WA needed to provide an adequate safety net for those who could not enter the private rental market, who were experiencing homelessness and for those who needed the time and space to get back on their feet.

Mr Hall said the state needed a comprehensive strategy to address the demand for social and affordable housing options especially social and affordable dwellings that could be rented by people not in a position to buy a home either on the open market or through schemes like Keystart.

Shelter WA’s concern about social and affordable housing has been echoed by the Housing Industry Forecasting Group.

The forecasting group’s report Forecasting dwelling commencements in Western Australia 2017-2018  launched on November 30 showed there remains a significant shortage of affordable housing for Western Australians on low incomes.

The report said private rental affordability has improved for those on moderate incomes in the private rental market, but for those on very low incomes, conditions have not changed.

“A very low income household (earning around $43,000), paying around 30 per cent of income on rent, could afford only $250 a week in the private rental market,’’ the report said.

“This is well below the lower quartile rental price of $290.

“In contrast, a household earning $70,000 could afford rent of $400 a week, above the median rent of $350.

The report also said home ownership housing affordability in WA remained challenging, despite the softening in prices over the past few years.

“Western Australians on low incomes remain essentially locked out of home ownership,’’ the report said.

“A household on a very low income in Perth (less than 50 per cent of the median income, or around $43,000) would be able to afford a dwelling priced at $216,300 if they were to spend only 30 per cent of their income on repayments (the standard measure of housing stress). “This also assumes that the household is able to save a 10 per cent deposit, which would likely be extremely difficult for a low income household, especially while renting in the private market.

“This is well below the lower quartile house price of $393,500. “Conditions are also difficult for those on moderate incomes.

“A household on 80 per cent of the Perth median (roughly $70,000) can afford a house of about $350,000 – well below the median house price of $504,320.’’

The report said Housing Industry Forecasting Group members welcomed the focus on housing affordability in the 2017-18 Federal Budget but noted the introduction and impact of the measures remained uncertain.

Mr Hall said  Western Australia’s social and affordable housing system was simply not big enough and there were not enough dwellings in the system to cope with demand as evidenced, principally by WA’s substantial housing waitlist with the average waiting time for social housing projected to be 145 weeks.

“The recent State Budget revealed there was no money set aside for community housing organisations to grow the sector,’’ he said.

“The problem we are dealing with is structural not cyclical.

“A clear strategy, outlining investment in community housing, as an important sector to deliver homes for people on low to moderate incomes would be a great start to ending homelessness and addressing costs in other key government cost centres.’’

“Measures noted in the Budget papers, to address affordability reference Commonwealth strategies, such as the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, to increase private sector investment into social and affordable rental housing.

“While Commonwealth initiatives provide an opportunity for the community housing sector, the State Government detailing a Commonwealth response also could be seen as shifting some of the responsibility.”