Thousands of Western Australians on Department of Housing waiting list

Penny Roberts with children Holly and Bailey. Picture: Bruce Hunt d429178
Penny Roberts with children Holly and Bailey. Picture: Bruce Hunt d429178

PENNY ROBERTS says she is frustrated after spending more than seven years on a Department of Housing waiting list in houses too small to accommodate her four children adequately.

Ms Robert’s youngest son Bailey (3), who has autism, is forced to sleep on the couch in the living room as the others share two rooms between them.

The single mum said she understood why there is a waiting list, but was beginning to question its effectiveness.

‘I’m not here to jump any queue, I know there are more needy people than me but I wish they would move a little bit faster,’ Ms Roberts said.

‘I wasn’t frustrated at first and always said I’d wait my turn but when you see empty Homeswest houses or hear about two people who are living in a two bedroom house, it’s frustrating.’

‘Bailey doesn’t have a bed or a bedroom, he has to sleep on the lounge or he sleeps in the room with me.’

Department of Housing acting service delivery general manager Greg Cash said there were more than 6500 applications for public housing in the north metropolitan region, with more than 1000 on the priority list.

‘An applicant who can demonstrate an urgent need may be placed on the priority wait list, however they must still wait for a suitable property to become available,’ Mr Cash said.

‘Every applicant on the priority waiting list has an urgent need and the department endeavours to house them as quickly as possible.’

Ms Roberts, who works part time and pays more than $400 a week for her current property, said she struggles to get a good night’s sleep.

‘I’m lucky to get four to five hours a night, conventionally autistic kids aren’t very good sleepers,’ she said.

‘He doesn’t talk so there’s no rationalising with him.’

Mirrabooka MLA Janine Freeman said more needed to be done to address the length of time people spent on the priority waiting list.

‘Ms Roberts is not asking for anything unreasonable, she needs a home that is big enough for her four children, one with disability who needs extra help,’ Ms Freeman said.

‘But while this is a very difficult situation for the Roberts family and it’s quite outrageous they can’t get a suitable home, it’s also a wider problem.

‘The word priority means that there is some sense of urgency; it should not take years to get priority housing.’