Government announces $150 million housing investment package

Stock image.
Stock image.

A $150 million commitment from the State Government to help West Australians striving for home ownership or a quality home to live in has won industry support.

The Housing Investment Package will provide additional homes for people on low incomes or at risk of homelessness while supporting the WA economy and the housing construction industry.

It will include:
– $125 million for more than 300 new public housing units targeting homeless and vulnerable people on the priority waitlist;
– $6 million to refurbish 20 regional and 50 metropolitan public housing properties; and
– $19.2 million for 200 additional shared equity homes, delivered in partnership with Keystart, WA’s low deposit home ownership scheme.

In addition, the temporary changes to Keystart’s income limits for borrowers have been extended by six months to June 30, 2020 and the State Government also approved an additional increase to its borrowing limit by $437.2 million, boosting its lending capacity to $5.3 billion.

Premier Mark McGowan said the measures would go a long way to helping those in need get into a home, boosting the supply of short and long-term housing options for people experiencing difficulty getting into a home and supporting people at risk of homelessness through the availability of more social and affordable housing.

“The Housing Investment Package and the extension to Keystart’s income eligibility changes are all about putting home ownership within the reach of more Western Australians, supporting some of our most vulnerable Western Australians and stimulating the economy,” he said.

Mr McGowan said the $150 million boost to the housing construction industry would also help create 1000 new jobs.

UDIA WA chief executive Tanya Steinbeck said it was a fantastic initiative that directly responded to those most in need and provided a much-needed activity injection that would support jobs, training and apprenticeships for a more sustainable building industry moving forward.

“The residential property market has endured tough times in recent years and that has had a significant impact on jobs and the broader economy,” she said.

“Delivering 300-plus public housing dwellings as well as 70 refurbishments will not only have an important impact on addressing the housing affordability challenges currently faced by many in low income brackets, it will also help stimulate the construction sector.

“The extra investment in Keystart, including the 200 additional shared equity opportunities, as well as extending the relaxation of the income criteria and an additional increase to Keystart’s borrowing limit are very sensible measures that will all help more people into their own home.”

Master Builders WA executive director John Gelavis said the investment in additional public housing and Keystart was a much-needed boost for builders and those desperately trying the access social housing.

“(These) are important policies to help builders get through to the end of the building slump,” he said.

“Increasing Keystart’s borrowing limit creates greater capacity for people to get on the property ladder and, since many choose to build a new home, it’s also great for residential builders.

“This will provide a great multiplier across the West Australian economy, which affects many other small businesses associated with the residential building industry.”

Mr Gelavis said did call for additional action.

“We would like to see the State Government follow up this initiative by raising the Keystart property price cap to $550,000, which would allow more freedom in housing choices, and rolling the income limits for couples into the $155,000 family category so more people get the chance to own a home,” he said.

HIA executive director Cath Hart said the investment package would help sustain jobs and businesses in WA’s residential construction sector after several years of incredibly challenging conditions.

“Over the past year, we’ve heard many stories about businesses and tradies reducing shifts, reconsidering staying in WA or simply hanging up the tools – they have really been holding on, waiting for things to improve,” she said.

“Today’s announcements will give confidence to the thousands of hard-working West Australian employees and businesses in the residential construction sector to stay the course, to continue in their trades and to retain their staff.”

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