Housing out of reach

Weri family members mum Judy, dad Gordon and five of their six children Hakopa, Patricia, Janice, Matekitahiti and Kohi (Tamara not pictured).
Weri family members mum Judy, dad Gordon and five of their six children Hakopa, Patricia, Janice, Matekitahiti and Kohi (Tamara not pictured).

For Judi Weri, husband Gordon and their six children, housing and employment are in desperately short supply.

Now living in a local Swan Emergency Accommodation (SEA) home, the family are struggling to maintain links with their old community in Armadale.

‘Each Tuesday my husband drives my son to Armadale for cricket practice and we hope to move back to our old area, as that is where all the kids’ friends and schools are,’ Mrs Weri said.

‘We lived in Armadale for eight years and would like to go back but there is a seven to eight year waiting list for a house.’

SEA executive officer Don Tunnicliffe said his organisation managed 20 properties, which were always in high demand.

‘The mining boom has absorbed the affordable range of housing for the usual population in the area,’ Mr Tunnicliffe |said.

Located in Midland, SEA wants developers to include more one and two-bedroom units and apartments in their development plans for social housing.

SEA was the only emergency accommodation service that was able to help the Weri family.

Mrs Weri said she called every service in Perth as the family ‘couch-surfed’ at the homes of family members for a week and a half.

While the Department of Housing says it has nearly 21,000 people on the wait list for homes, that is much better than it was three years ago.

‘In June, 2010, demand peaked at 24,100 applications but has dropped since,’ general manager service delivery Steve Parry said.

‘As at October 31, 2013, there were 1103 applicants on the waiting list for public housing in the zone that includes Midland, meaning an average wait time of 116 weeks.’

Mr Tunnicliffe said while there had been more housing developed, it had not necessarily been in the affordable range.

However, he said the wait in 2010 was as high as 124 weeks.

‘The department strives to meet the housing needs of all applicants on the waiting list at the earliest possible time,’ he said.

The problem for people seeking accommodation seems unlikely to lessen, with Perth’s population predicted to increase to 5.5 million by 2050.

Add to this the prediction that local demand will also increase as the new hospital complex in Midland is completed.

‘The range of housing from affordable to middle income will dry up as nurses and academics move in,’ Mr Tunnicliffe said.

SEA also provides support services with the housing so that tenants can understand the process of managing money.

There is also a predicted boom in middle-aged women seeking accommodation, with more females forecast to become homeless.

‘It will be the biggest growth area and the largest demand in the future. They are without homes and without superannuation,’ Mr Tunnicliffe said.

‘People are faced with rentals above 30 per cent of their income and they need to make a choice between school books for their kids, the electricity bill or the rent on pay day.’