Myaree: Keeping a Roof Over our Heads report reveals home truths

Heather Thomson outside her multi-generational cottage-block home in Myaree.
Heather Thomson outside her multi-generational cottage-block home in Myaree.

MORE people are looking outside the traditional lot in a bid to reduce mortgage stress.

The second Keeping a Roof Over our Heads report, released by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC) in Bentley last week, showed current housing options were not keeping up with population changes.

The study surveyed more than 4000 households in WA, NSW and Queensland.

As a single mother of two sons at university, Heather Thomson looked to halve her mortgage when she changed careers.

“I had a really big house but the house owned me,” she said.

“I was constantly cleaning it.”

She pooled resources with her 90-year-old mother to build a year ago in Myaree.

With persistence, they found a suitable cottage block on Marmion Street and built a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home.

She saved money on heating and cooling by downsizing and was able to get rid of her car, further boosting her health and social connections.

Ms Thomson said they would all struggle to afford housing on their own, but could comfortably live together.

The report showed more than 80 per cent of older households would like to downsize but 44 per cent did not believe there were enough housing options to do so.

Lead researcher and BCEC deputy director Rachel Ong said minimum wage workers were unable to even rent their own place.

“Currently, individuals living on a minimum wage cannot afford to rent a one bedroom unit in the Perth metropolitan area, despite targeting the lower end of the housing market,” she said.

She said WA was one of the least diverse areas for housing stock options in Australia.

City of Canning acting chief executive Garry Adams said his area mostly had large single houses, so there were not enough options for those wanting to downsize.

He said students had their own housing challenges, such as affordability.

The City adopted a Local Housing Strategy in October 2014 to boost housing diversity and generate more compact housing.

City of Melville chief executive Shayne Silcox said it was important to build smaller dwellings close to public transport so people could further save.

“Young people in particular are often willing to make this trade-off, buying small dwellings in locations that lessen their dependence on cars,” Dr Silcox said.

The City has adopted five structure plans and activity centre plans in the past three years.

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