Anglicare WA calls for WA Housing Future Fund to solve housing crisis

Dec 20, 2023

Anglicare WA has called on the State Government to support a Western Australian Housing Future Fund as a sustainable, long-term solution to the state’s housing crisis. 

Independent modelling, commissioned by Anglicare WA, suggests a WA Housing Future Fund could unlock a minimum of 6170 social and affordable dwellings in the next 10 years. 

Under the plan, a $1 billion investment could net an annual dividend of $50 million. Combined with Commonwealth, community housing and philanthropic funding, it could return more than 617 social and affordable homes a year. 

Anglicare WA Chief Executive Officer Mark Glasson said a WA Housing Future Fund would help ease the long-term housing shortage and enable a more sustainable housing system. 

“What we are looking for is a solution to the long-term housing needs of Western Australians,” Mr Glasson said. “We need to think over the horizon. 

“This model for housing finance would provide an ongoing stream of funding, it would provide certainty to housing providers, and it would mean that over time we would start to make a material impact on the deficit of housing in this state. 

“More than $20 billion has been banked in the life of this current Labor McGowan-Cook Government. What we are saying is give us 5 percent of that. You hang onto the money, but give us the dividend – and the legacy of that decision would work for families in WA forever. 

“It’s not a silver bullet but we think it is a sensible approach to get more houses on the ground.” 

The plan comes as latest data suggests there is an unmet need of almost 40,000 social and 20,000 affordable homes in WA. 

More than 19,000 households are on the social housing waitlist, with the average wait time more than two years, and 9000 West Australians experience homelessness on any given night. 

In addition, over half (54%) of low-income households in the private rental market are in housing stress, paying more than 30% of their income on rent, with prices surging 32% in the past two years. 

Mr Glasson said yesterday’s Budget review announcement of a $3.7 billion surplus should be the catalyst for change. 

“WA is not alone in its affordable housing challenges, but it is unique in its fiscal position,” Mr Glasson said. 

“The housing crisis we are in now has not come about in the last two or three years. This has been building for 20 or 30 years, maybe even more. 

“When you look at the economic performance of this state over the last five or six years and you look at the number of families who have insecure housing and hungry children, we have to ask ourselves some serious questions. 

“A WA Housing Future Fund provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to build a legacy for the state and to provide safe, affordable accommodation for Western Australians into the future.” 

Mr Glasson acknowledged the Labor McGowan-Cook Government and its investment in social housing, but conceded it did not go far enough to meet demand. 

“Anglicare WA recognises the record WA Government investment in social housing of at least $2.5 billion over the last three Budgets, which will deliver more than 3300 social homes over four years,” Mr Glasson said. 

“Despite this commitment, there remains a compounding shortfall and lack of consistent, long-term funding and financing mechanisms for social and affordable housing. This is the problem we must focus on. 

“The funding committed by the State Government is outstanding. It’s an investment like we’ve never seen before, but it doesn’t have the scale or longevity that we need. What we are offering is a solution that has scale and will serve generations to come.” 

The Commonwealth Government has already committed to a $10 billon Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) to build and maintain social and affordable housing. A Western Australian Fund will maximise the state’s share of that funding. 

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