Build to End Homelessness

Earlier this year the UNSW City Futures Research Centre in partnership with the Community Housing Industry Association of NSW released a seminal report

It estimated that Australia needs to build more than a million social and affordable houses over the next 20 years to keep pace with the growing number of people struggling to pay their rent.

Lead researcher Laurence Troy told Pro Bono Australia “to cover the backlog of unmet need and future need over the next 20 years, two in 10 new homes would need to be social housing while a further one in 10 would need to be affordable rental homes”.

Western Australia alone requires 58,500 dwellings to meet the current demand for affordable housing according to the UNSW. The UNSW research on housing needs in WA points to an additional 118,400 houses for future supply to 2036.

[L-R] Tanya Steinbeck, CEO Urban Development Institute of Australia (WA); Sadie Davidson, Advocacy and Policy Manager REIWA; Jennie Vartan, Interim CEO Access Housing; Alison Robertson, State Manager Brookfield Properties; Bob Jordan, National Director of Housing First at the Republic of Ireland; Michelle Mackenzie, CEO Shelter WA; Sandra Brewer, Western Australian Property Council Executive Director.

So, where does one begin on such an important task?

Providing the social and affordable housing needed to ensure everybody has a safe, secure and affordable home needs an aligned effort between government of all levels, the business and property industry and the community sector. This is the only way that as a community we can work towards ending homelessness.

The State Government’s Affordable Housing Action Plan 2017-18 to 2019-2020 committed to delivering 7,700 homes for people on low to moderate incomes, as well as having a focus on inclusive and liveable communities. Whilst this addition investment of 7,700 homes was welcome it falls very short from the current demand for affordable housing in our State and did not deliver the social housing outcomes needed. 

[L-R] Janette Ford, Global Innovators and Kit Scott, Western Australian Alliance to End Homelessness.

Two major strategies under development by the State Government are the State Homelessness Strategy and State Housing Strategy.  These two strategic directions must address this glaring issue of the lack of supply of social housing and affordable rental in WA. they must focus on increasing social housing as a matter of urgency.

Representatives of the corporate and community sectors were brought together through a joint event between Shelter WA and The Property Council of WA during Homelessness Week to outline the innovative approaches and opportunities for the property sector to work with the community sector to end homelessness.

After presentations from Sandra Brewer, Executive Director of the Property Council WA and Michelle Mackenzie, CEO of Shelter WA, and international keynote speaker Bob Jordan, the Director of Housing First in Ireland, a panel discussed and took questions from the floor on how WA must build more social and affordable housing.

Bob Jordan - National Director, Housing First, Republic of Ireland;

“What was clear to me was that there is great goodwill in the property sector to work with the community and State Government to end homelessness," said Michelle Mackenzie.

“There are good examples how taxation and planning reform can incentivise developers to include more social housing within their products – also the positive outcomes that are obtained by the community housing sector in  working in partnership with the property industry to deliver good products for tenants and for communities."

The panel was comprised of:

•          Bob Jordan - National Director, Housing First, Republic of Ireland

•          Sandra Brewer - Executive Director, Property Council WA

•          Jennie Vartan - Interim CEO, Access Housing

•          Sadie Davidson - Advocacy and Policy Manager, REIWA

•          Tanya Steinbeck - CEO, UDIA

•          Alison Robertson - State Manager, Brookfield Properties.



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