Rents remain unaffordable for low income households in Perth

Rents remain unaffordable for people on low incomes in Perth, despite a continued record improving trend in affordability, according to the May Rental Affordability Index (RAI).

The RAI is a price index for housing rental markets released biannually by National Shelter, Community Sector Banking and SGS Economics & Planning. It’s an indicator of rental affordability relative to household incomes.

“The latest Rental Affordability Index shows the rental crisis continues. Financial stress, overcrowding and insecurity are the everyday reality of working families,” Ellen Witte, Partner at SGS Economics and Planning said.

Adrian Pisarski, Executive Officer at National Shelter said that while there has been some slight improvement in some capitals, the situation has not improved at all for low income households.

“For Households below the median income rental affordability remains a real problem while for households on moderate and low wages and benefits we have a genuine crisis in rental affordability,” Mr Pisarski said.

“The latest RAI shows the serious need for a national housing plan – without action, lower income earners will be forced from our cities and capitals like Sydney will lose vital workers, like those in hospitality,” said Andrew Cairns, CEO of Community Sector Banking.

Conny Lenneberg, Executive Director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, said the data reflected the struggles of low income renters the Brotherhood worked with in outer suburbs of major cities and regional areas.

This is the first release of the Rental Affordability Index since the Brotherhood of St. Laurence joined SGS Economics & Planning, National Shelter and Community Sector Banking as a sponsor.

“This study shows the depths of the housing crisis facing Australian renters on low incomes,” Ms Lenneberg said.

“People are facing deep challenges securing affordable housing in the private rental market, pushed further and further away from the areas from where the jobs are located.

“For some vulnerable people who are unemployed, the combina

tion of very low rates of Newstart -  as little as $38.98 a day for a single unemployed person - and rising rents for even modest accommodation, is proving unbearable. The consequence is that people are being pushed into homelessness.”

With an RAI of 145 in the December quarter, the latest report shows a continued record improving trend in rental affordability in Perth – the median household faces rents at 21% of total income, which is considered acceptable.

Despite the continued improvement, rents remain unaffordable for lower income households. A single part-time worker parent on benefits faces rents at 46% of income, which is severely unaffordable.

The spread of affordability across greater Perth is also uneven. Some inner-city areas  are moderately unaffordable to unaffordable, while areas along the coast, including North Fremantle and Claremont remain unaffordable.

Speaking on what could be done to address the crisis, Ms Witte said, “There are opportunities to further streamline development planning processes, but more importantly to invest in social and affordable housing for workers. The use of instruments like the density bonus and inclusionary zoning needs to be maximised.”

National Shelter is also calling for change. “The data demonstrates the need for national leadership and a national housing strategy. We need to bring the threads of tax reform, incentives to encourage greater investment by institutional finance and states, planning reforms and urban and regional development together to tackle this problem,” Mr Pisarski said.

MeanwhileRental affordability has declined in regional Western Australia, which recorded an RAI of 153 in the December quarter of 2017.

While the region has seen improving affordability over recent years, fluctuations across 2017 suggest that the improvement may be plateauing. The June quarter of 2017 saw the first minor decline in rental affordability in regional WA since the same quarter of 2014.

  

 


 

 

Bill to empower FDV victims introduced

Legislation, intended to provide better outcomes for victims of family and domestic violence, who are renting, was introduced to Parliament this week.

Domestic and family violence is a key risk factor for homelessness, particularly for women and children.

This legislation, if passed, will empower victims and gives the court, landlords and property managers tools to play a part in stopping domestic and family violence.

The Bill will amend the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 and the Residential Parks (Long-stay Tenants) Act 2007.

Among other things, it will do:

  • enable victims to end their interest in a tenancy by giving a specific kind of notice
  • enable a victim tenant to change the locks on the premises without first having to obtain the permission of the lessor

    Read the Bill and explanatory memorandum here:

  

 

 

Disruptive Behaviour Management Unit Review

The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) is reviewing the Disruptive Behaviour Management Unit within the Department of Communities.

The objective of the audit is to assess how effectively the department manages tenants who are disruptive or who are conducting illegal activities in public housing.

The office's lines of inquiry will include, but are not limited to:

  • Does the Department have effective mechanisms in place to achieve good tenant and community outcomes?
  • Are complaints effectively managed to deliver consistent, timely and fair outcomes? The audit is expected to be tabled in Parliament in the third quarter of 2018.

Shelter WA CEO Michelle Mackenzie said concerns have been raised over several years about the impact of this policy on tenants.

“Whilst Shelter WA understands the need for tenancies to be well managed, this policy is often a punitive response to social issues including mental illness, family and domestic violence, or household poverty, rather than a focus on the systems and funding to support people to maintain and sustain their tenancies. it has resulted in people being evicted into homelessness.”

The OAG is keen to acquire feedback from stakeholders about the audit topic, whether it be issues and problems or solutions and possible improvement opportunities.

Shelter WA will work closely with Tenancy WA, our members and other agencies to develop a collective response to the  Office of the Auditor General (OAG) which is reviewing the Disruptive Behaviour Management Unit within the Department of Communities.

Click on this link for further information about the review.

  

 

 

Government's 'The Precincts' initiative welcome - but more detail about social housing needed -  

Shelter WA welcomes the WA State Government’s urban infill project, ‘The Precincts,’ but is concerned about the lack of information on how the government plans to use this initiative to increase social and affordable housing supply.

On Tuesday, May 15, the State Government announced that ‘The Precincts’ will deliver 5,000 homes across four sites.  At the same time, the Government called for expressions of interest from the private sector to partner in the developments.

Collectively branded as 'The Precincts', these market-leading developments will set a new benchmark for medium-to-high density urban infill in WA, and deliver 5,000 new homes in Bentley, Joondalup, Beaconsfield and Cannington during the next 15 years, the State Government outlined in its release. 

Whilst Shelter WA welcomes the focus on medium to high density urban infill, and a vision of neighbourhoods with heart and soul, the media release was silent on how social and affordable housing would be incorporated within the developments.

Shelter WA CEO Michelle Mackenzie said the ‘The Precincts’ is a significant opportunity for Government to deliver on its election commitment to increase social housing to six per cent of housing stock. METRONET provides a key to work not just with industry, but with the community housing sector to deliver new social and affordable housing supply to respond to current and projected demand.

“There are good examples of mixed tenure developments that provide housing diversity and choice to people delivered by the community housing sector in partnership with government and industry,” Ms Mackenzie said.

“The government needs to set minimum targets h to reduce the two- year wait list for social housing, and to ensure real housing options and choice, in particular for people who require housing support.

 “The media release is silent on social on the social and affordable housing targets over the 15-year project plan. This is a major concern.”

 Read the State Government’s media release

Government's 'The Precincts' initiative welcome - but more detail about social housing needed -  

Shelter WA welcomes the WA State Government’s urban infill project, ‘The Precincts,’ but is concerned about the lack of information on how the government plans to use this initiative to increase social and affordable housing supply.

On Tuesday, May 15, the State Government announced that ‘The Precincts’ will deliver 5,000 homes across four sites.  At the same time, the Government called for expressions of interest from the private sector to partner in the developments.

Read More

NHFIC discussed at Shelter WA

A diverse group of people recently gathered at Shelter WA to meet the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) Executive Director Michael Fotheringham to talk about the National Housing Finance & Investment Corporation (NHFIC).

The discussion, on May 11, was both wide ranging and informative.

Dr Fotheringham, whose proposal for the establishment of a bond aggregator, was taken up by the Federal Government and forms the basis for the NHFIC.

NHFIC will also administer the National Housing Infrastructure Facility, $1bn over five years of concessional loans, equity investments and grants that will be made available to local governments to finance infrastructure works.   

Among other things participants learned were:  

  1. The legislation to establish NHFIC is expected to be tabled soon, and it is hoped that NHFIC will be up and running by 1 July. There’s a serious administrative task hidden in that sentence – at present, NHFIC has no Board, no staff members and no offices.
  2. We don’t yet know on what terms CHPs will be able to borrow money through NHFIC (e.g. the term of the debt, interest rates, administrative costs, etc).
  3. We don’t yet know what the interaction will be between WA’s CHP registration regime and NHFIC. Shelter WA takes the view that the ongoing uncertainty around CHP registration in WA creates the risk that WA CHPs will be excluded from this new, and hopefully cost-effective, financing approach.
  4. There is still work to do to figure out which CHPs (and which projects) willB find borrowing through NHFIC is a good fit.

The last innovative financing model tried in Australia was the National Rental Affordability Scheme. As the scheme evolved, the ‘aggregator’ organisations, who sat between investors and CHPs, grew in prominence and matured in their capacities. NRAS was suspended before we really saw what the model was capable of. It’s likely that patience will again be called for to see what benefits can be realised through NHFIC.

Background Facts

  • A bond is a way of borrowing money from someone other than a bank. Through a bond, investors lend money, generally over a relatively long term, and are paid interest which may be at a fixed or variable rate. Most commonly, the principle is repaid at the end of the term of the bond (the ‘maturity date’)
  • Australia does not have a large bond market. In other parts of the world, bonds are commonly used by corporations and governments to raise funds and are widely available to both sophisticated and retail investors
  • The bonds issued through NHFIC will be guaranteed by the Federal Government. That is, the Federal Government will guarantee that both the interest and principle will be repaid. It’s likely that this will mean the Federal Government takes a role in monitoring CHPs who borrow money, in order to reduce the likelihood that they are called on to exercise their responsibilities under the guarantee


     

 

 

Tenancy WA and Street Law recognised

Shelter WA congratulates our organisation's members - Tenancy WA  and Street Law for being recognised for the valued and much needed Safe as Houses Program.

Tenancy WA  won this year's Attorney General's Community Service Law Awards for the Safe as Houses program, which Street Law Centre WA and the Women's Law Centre of WA deliver in partnership with Tenancy WA.

Attorney General John Quigley made the announcement at the the annual Attorney General's Community Service Law Awards at a Law Week breakfast function on Monday, May 14. 

Tenancy WA was honoured for its Safe as Houses program which through the case-cordinated method is helping women, children and young people in precarious living arrangements, often as a result of family violence.

Tenancy WA, the Street Law Centre and Women's Law Centre give specialist legal advice and representation to this group to stop them falling into homelessness.

Shelter WA CEO Michelle Mackenzie said ensuring women and children do not fall into homelessness is such important work.  

“Shelter WA applauds the work of all Tenancy WA, Street Law and Women's Law Centre staff members.”

The award program is in its 12th year and recognises the individual lawyer and legal practice that have done the most outstanding pro bono legal work, donating their time and legal expertise.


Salvation Army - five different services helping to end homelessness

Shelter WA member, the Salvation Army Homelessness Services, is part of the broader social and community services, in its Western Australia division, and covers a suite of five services - all pointing to different pathways out of homelessness.

Manager Homelessness Services Network Beverley Wilson-Malcolm explained that her organisation was a Shelter WA member because it was good to be part of a collective voice to impact policy development, through research and consultations, that support access to affordable and secure housing and addressing issues that lead to homelessness.

"Together we are better, growing partnerships between the housing industry, and the community housing and social services sector," Ms Wilson-Malcolm said.

"We need to work together to impact government, to deliver affordable housing solutions."

The Salvation Army Homelessness Services’ aims to create different pathways for people who are experiencing homelessness, or at risk of homelessness, to access a service model that assists them work on key issues that have contributed to their homelessness and work towards their transformation.

Here is a snapshot of the Salvation Army's five different services:

The Beacon Homelessness Services provides residential, crisis and transitional case management, which offers long-term stable and affordable housing options. It is an adult facility, with a bed capacity of 102. The facility is equipped to take couples and singles. Bed Capacity: 114.

Street to Home – Homelessness Services’ objective is to ensure people who are sleeping rough, and people who are at risk of returning to primary homelessness, achieve long term, secure, stable and affordable accommodation. Clients are effectively linked with mental health services, and other main stream services, to address the issues that contribute to their homelessness.  

Community Living Program – Homelessness Services aims to provide a person-centred and transitional resource that supports people experiencing homelessness with a current bed capacity of 28 individuals with a diagnosed mental illness or recent and significant experience of poor mental health to positively engage in community living.

The Restorative Lifestyle Program builds on the four keys to a balanced life: physical well-being, psychological well-being, social well-being and spiritual well-being. The program electives are presented by staff members and external service providers including, but not limited to, an academic from Edith Cowan University, staff members from Red Cross and Women’s Health personnel.  

Beacon Catering – Catering for a cause – prepares three meals per day for residents over 365 days of the year.  The kitchen also provides meals for fire and emergency staff members throughout the year. The Beacon catering arm is looking to extend its catering to local businesses, private parties and other service providers’ functions to help put money back into Homelessness.

Ms Wilson-Malcolm said when clients are first seen they are triaged to link up with a mobile GP (Homeless Healthcare) who visit once a week.

“In many cases clients have experienced major trauma and are often prescribed medication,” Ms Wilson Malcolm said.

“After doctors have seen clients for two or more sessions, a mental health care plan is compiled (if required) and the client is referred to clinical psychological services through Psychology Australia on site twice a week."

Ms Wilson-Malcolm said she was proud that the programs have made a significant impact on clients’ lives and empowered them in moving forward at the end of each program cycle.

“Clients are taken from crisis through transitional accommodation services.

“They are engaged with Homeless Health Care and then on to a care plan or mental health care plan, where they have the opportunity to engage with counselling and mental health care plans. 

“Case managers then follows this through with the client to source housing options early.  The clients are then supported in the community through various housing programs and community living programs which are supported with tenancy support workers according to their needs."

  • Salvation Army - five different services helping to end homelessness

    The Salvation Army Homelessness Services is a part of the broader social and community services in the Western Australia division.

    This service covers a suite of five services - all pointing to different pathways out of homelessness.

    Read More

 

 

METRONET Private Sector Reference Group

Shelter WA CEO Michelle Mackenzie recently attended the first meeting of METRONET Private Sector Reference Group.

The State Government recognises METRONET’s success will lie in the public and private sector working together, with Shelter WA providing a valuable role in ensuring that the opportunities that the community housing and service sector bring to this project are heard and understood.

The functions of the group are to provide a mechanism that allows the METRONET Taskforce to: provide information to private sector stakeholders on the direction and progress of the planning of the METRONET Program of works (particularly in respect of station precinct development and land-use outcomes) and to obtain independent advice on key matters such as procurement, property development and commercial negotiation.

This Group will provide advice to the METRONET Taskforce, chaired by the Minister for Transport, Planning, Lands and Heritage, with a better understanding of the opportunities and constraints associated with the METRONET objective to deliver integrated and innovative land-use outcomes.

In the first Private Sector Reference Group meeting, the METRONET Office provided an update on the Stage One projects, market analysis to determine development appetite for each precinct and early development of a precinct implementation strategy.

Shelter WA will continue to work with its Metronet Advisory Group to deliver positive social and affordable housing outcomes through Metronet

Western Australians, on government benefits, have limited housing options

Anglicare's Rental Affordability Snapshot found that despite some indications of improved affordability for working families, Western Australians on government benefits continue to have limited housing options.

A striking thing emerges when you read the numbers in the Anglicare WA Rental Affordability Snapshot.

In every region, there’s a series of numbers – ‘zero, zero, zero’. When you write in last years’ numbers for comparison, ‘zero, zero, zero’. These are the numbers of dwellings affordable to single people who are young, or unemployed, or both. Zero dwellings last year, zero dwellings this year. Zero dwellings in the metro area, zero dwellings in the south, zero dwellings in the north.

The numbers are low for every demographic Anglicare WA has considered. Some demographics were marginally better off last year, and some are marginally better off this year.

But those zeros mean something: a cohort of people for whom housing was not affordable last year, is not affordable this year – and in all likelihood, won’t be affordable next year.

The 2018 Rental Affordability Snapshot is designed to highlight the lived experience of looking for housing while on a low income. It focuses on the Australian population who earn the least income – Commonwealth benefit recipients and minimum wage earners. Each year, Anglicare Australia agencies search local newspapers and real estate websites for rental accommodation across the country.

In Western Australia, the snapshot includes a survey of 12,229 private rentals advertised in the Perth metro area, the South West and Great Southern, and in the North West to determine if the properties were affordable and appropriate for different household types. Anglicare determined a suitable rental to be one which took up less than 30% of a household’s income, a commonly used benchmark of affordability, and which had an appropriate number of bedrooms.

Read the reports:

http://www.anglicare.asn.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/rental-affordability-snapshot---regional-report.pdf?sfvrsn=0 

http://www.anglicare.asn.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/final---rental-affordability-snapshot.pdf?sfvrsn=0 

The Snapshot is required reading for anyone interested in housing in WA.   

 

National Shelter's policy priorities for a better and fairer Australian housing system

Housing policy peak National Shelter has announced its policy priorities for 2018 and is calling on all Australians to join the Everybody’s Home campaign to ensure access to affordable, accessible, safe and secure housing. 

National Shelter Executive Officer Adrian Pisarski said that housing has now been a BBQ stopper for decades and it is past time for all levels of Government to take the issue as seriously as everyday Australians do. 
“We need a National Housing Strategy and there must be a senior Commonwealth Minister to lead implementation of the Strategy and facilitate the policies, legislation, resources and engagement from all levels of government and the private and community sectors necessary to delivery such a strategy,” Mr Pisarski said. 
National Shelter has announced nine policy priorities: 

1. A National Housing Strategy 

A National Strategy is key to bringing together all the relevant stakeholders to work constructively together to build a better housing system for all Australians. 
“Nothing short of a National Housing Strategy, led by a senior Commonwealth Minister can bring together the elements required to address the market failure, the imbalance in policy and absence of cooperation between all levels of government that resist making housing affordable,” Mr Pisarski said.

2. Taxation Reform 

Australia’s current tax treatment of housing is part of the problem.

“We need cross party support for sustainable tax reform to remove the market distorting tax settings which have locked a generation out of ownership and rewarded the speculators instead of the hard workers.”

3. Urban and Regional Development

Affordable housing underpins workforce and community participation.  

“The Commonwealth needs to leverage its infrastructure spending and support for city deals to pressure states to get their planning systems working for housing affordability as a productivity priority”

4. Financing Affordable Housing

There is much more that can be done to facilitate investment in social and affordable housing.“We require governments to invest in an incentive payment to meet the investment gap to produce affordable housing at scale.”

5. A fair and secure rental system

Almost one third of Australians rent their home. We must build a stronger and fairer rental system. “Our rental systems resemble the 19th century not the 21st. The Commonwealth must lead the states to ensure renting is secure, affordable, high quality and accessible, build scale investor confidence and end the feudal relationship renters face with their landlords.”

6. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Strategy 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have very low rates of home ownership and carry a disproportionate burden of homelessness. “Housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders requires a new 10 year strategy in remote areas and a massive boost in urban areas.”

7. National Affordable Housing and Homelessness Agreement

The National Affordable Housing and Homelessness Agreement is the key instrument between the Commonwealth and states and territories through housing and homelessness programs are delivered.  “Social Housing needs an investment approach and long term targets to lift social housing to its historic level and then to grow it to a sustainable level”

8. Ending homelessness

On any given night, one in every 200 Australians is experiencing homelessness. We must address the drivers of homelessness and address the housing and support needs of people experiencing homelessness. “We need to focus on prevention, early intervention and rapid rehousing of people experiencing homelessness.”

9. Housing affordability & income support reform 

We cannot ignore the massive gap between housing costs and very low incomes. Commonwealth Rent Assistance must be urgently reformed.  “We have allowed Commonwealth Rent Assistance to fall far short of helping families achieve affordable rental, an immediate boost and review are required.”

National Shelter believes that each and every one of these policy priorities must be urgently address to build a better housing system for the sake of all Australians.  National Shelter is a partner in the Everybody’s Home campaign and urges all community members to join the campaign at http://everybodyshome.com.au.  To read National Shelter's policy priority documents visit www.shelter.org.au.  

APRA plans to remove investor loan growth benchmark

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) announced this week its plan to remove the investor loan growth benchmark that was introduced in 2014 that aimed to reduce higher risk lending and improve practices. 

From July 1 2018, the cap will be removed and be replaced with more permanent measures to strengthen lending standards, APRA stated. 

APRA outlined that the 10 per cent benchmark was always a temporary measure that has served its purpose due to moderated lending growth, and improved lending standards and oversight. 

This cap only applies to an authorised deposit-taking institution (ADI) if APRA is provided clear evidence and assurance on the strength of the ADI's operating and lending standards. The benchmark for interest-only lending will continue to apply.

The benchmark was originally imposed due to market conditions in the Eastern States, so Western Australian (WA) property developers, in particular, will see this as an important barrier removed in supporting the development of needed WA projects.

With the recently shocking developments from the Royal Commission into Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, Shelter WA cautiously welcomes APRA's replacement of the cap with more permanent strengthened measures. 

In this current environment of heightened risk, Shelter WA strongly supports more action to be taken in improving how banks assess borrowers' expenses, their debts and the approval of loans that fell outside of banks formal lending policies. 

APRA must also continue to tightly monitor lending standards, as banks are expected to introduce internal limits on the proportion of new lending they provide to borrowers with very high debt-to-income levels, and on the maximum debt-to-income levels for individual borrowers. 

Overall, Shelter WA hopes this decision and future announcements are steps in a positive direction for prudent lending that will lead to not only an immediate boost for the WA housing market, but also in the long-run support more affordable housing. 

For more detailed information, please see APRA's full letter regarding the changes here.

Housing – an opportunity for budget repair

With just a few days to go before the 2018/19 State Budget, Shelter WA is urging the State Government to recognise that investment in housing will deliver Budget repair, and result in better economic, health and education outcomes for the Western Australian community.

Housing insecurity and homelessness remain a key issue for many people throughout the State, Shelter WA CEO Michelle Mackenzie said.

“The State Government has several levers to optimise government investment, and deliver long term returns to the State, which will improve the lives of many Western Australians.”

Shelter WA, in its pre-budget submission, is calling on the State Government to invest in more social and affordable housing, leveraging the strengths of the community housing sector.

“With thousands of people on the waiting list for social housing, the market is not meeting the housing needs of people on low and very low incomes,” Ms Mackenzie said.

“At a minimum, Western Australia needs 60,000 more social housing dwellings during the next ten years.

“With current market conditions, the time is right for this investment.

“Housing assets and underutilised government land are a multi-billion-dollar asset that can be unlocked and better optimised to deliver the supply needed.

“Community housing providers have proven, through collaboration with industry, financiers and community services, that they can deliver real affordable housing outcomes, unlocking new supply through institutional and Commonwealth investment.”

Ms Mackenzie said that investment in social housing, needs to be coupled with some strategic thinking to create a more affordable housing system.

“This includes tenancy reform, to make private rentals a more attractive housing option, along with a more strategic approach to property taxation shifting from stamp duties to a broad-based land tax system to maximise housing supply.

“Metronet provides a great opportunity to plan for new social and affordable housing outcomes, creating vibrant, diverse communities around station precincts.”

Read Shelter WA’s Pre-Budget Submission

Providing legal and advocacy service in Peel 

Shelter WA member, Peel Community Legal Service (PCLS) provides much needed legal and advocacy services to people on low incomes, living  in the Peel region south of Perth. 

PCLS explained that the organisation became a Shelter WA member because it is important for staff members to keep up-to date with all relevant information and trends surrounding people experiencing homelessness; tenancy issues and the bigger picture of why people become homeless.

Furthermore, PCLS, like Shelter WA, wants to support people at risk of homelessness and prevent them from becoming homeless.

PCLS services cover Mandurah, Pinjarra, Waroona, Boddington and Secret Harbour. The organisation also provides legal outreach services to Waroona and Pinjarra.

The organisation’s staff members offer a range of general legal advice, covering areas such as family law; tenancy; welfare; retirement villages and property settlement.

Advocacy staff members will see most of the tenancy issues and clients  presenting with issues ranging from ‘break-lease’ matters to eviction and court representation.

Break lease is currently a big issue, because there are many vacant rentals in the Peel Region, and real estate agents are reluctant to let tenants go - even those people in financial hardship or with evidence of Family and Domestic Violence (FDV).

PCLS support clients through tenancy issues and try to negotiate with real estate agents and making reports to Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety when compliance issues are identified.   Supporting clients with Department of Communities (Housing) appeals and negotiating with the local and regional office when things are not going so well for the client is a part of the service PCLS provide.

A continual stressor for PCLC staff members is that clients - especially those requiring mental health support or housing - are not being seen quickly enough by the appropriate agencies and while rents are cheaper in Mandurah compared to Perth - because of the high rental vacancies - Mandurah does not have the services, people with complex needs require access to.

Clients are referred to appropriate agencies, to work in a holistic way, but it has been noticed that clients with complex needs and those urgently requiring mental health support or housing are not being seen in a timely and appropriate time frame.

PCLS believe that this is due to the high volume of people seeking help and agencies simply not having the capacity.

Fast facts about PCLS

  • Aims to reduce the unmet legal need in the Peel community

  • Offers preventative and educative-focus community forums and education sessions
  • Focusses on the needs of identified, disadvantaged groups
  • Located in Mandurah
  • Has been operating since 2001
  • Employs 10 people - supported by several volunteers

  • Staff members have seen 1000 clients this financial year
  • PCLC is a member of Community Legal Centres Association WA and the National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC). 

     

 


 

 

Youth Homelessness Matters Day 

Shelter WA Policy and Engagement Manager Stephen Hall this week spoke at a Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia (YACWA) event about the causes of homelessness.

The Youth Homelessness Matters Day forum was held on Wednesday, April 18.

This is what Mr Hall said at the forum:

People, who are experiencing homelessness, are not a distinct and separate population.  In fact the line between experiencing homelessness and not being homeless is quite fluid. In general, the pathways into and out of homelessness are neither linear nor uniform.

More than half of the people experiencing homelessness on census night were in regional and remote areas of WA.  

Individuals and families who wind up experiencing homelessness may not share much in common with each other, aside from the fact that they are extremely vulnerable, and lack adequate housing and income and the necessary supports to ensure they stay housed.

Homelessness is usually the result of the cumulative impact of a number of factors, rather than a single cause.

Structural factors are economic and societal issues that affect opportunities and social environments for individuals.

Key factors can include the lack of adequate income, access to affordable housing and health supports and/or the experience of discrimination.

Shifts in the economy, both nationally and locally, can create challenges for people to earn an adequate income, pay for food and for housing.

Homelessness and poverty are inextricably linked. People who are poor are frequently unable to pay for necessities such as housing, food, childcare, health care, and education. Being poor can mean a person is one illness, one accident, or one pay cheque away from living on the streets.

A critical shortage of housing that is affordable, safe and stable directly contributes to homelessness. Countless families and individuals living are paying more than 50 per cent of their income on housing and are at serious risk of experiencing homelessness, as are families and individuals spending more than 30 per cent of their income on housing.

Arguably, the most impacting factor is the lack of affordable housing nationwide however; discrimination can impede access to employment, housing, justice and helpful services. Racial and sexual minorities are at greater risk of such discrimination. Precarious employment is also a critical factor in sustaining accommodation.

Systems failures occur when other systems of care and support fail, requiring vulnerable people to turn to the homelessness sector, when other mainstream services could have prevented this need. Examples of systems failures include difficult transitions from child welfare, inadequate discharge planning for people leaving hospitals, corrections and mental health and addictions facilities and a lack of support for immigrants and refugees.

Individual and relationship factors apply to the personal circumstances of a person experiencing homelessness, and may include: traumatic events (e.g. house fire or job loss), personal crisis (e.g. family break-up or domestic violence), mental health and addictions challenges (including brain injury and fetal alcohol syndrome), which can be both a cause and consequence of experiencing homelessness and physical health problems or disabilities. Relational problems can include family violence and abuse, addictions, and mental health problems of other family members and extreme poverty.

There is an undeniable connection between domestic violence and experiencing homelessness. Family violence can force individuals and families to leave home suddenly, without proper supports in place. This is particularly an issue for young people and women, especially those with children. Women who experience violence and who live in poverty, are often forced to choose between abusive relationships and homelessness. Young people who are victims of sexual, physical or psychological abuse often experience homelessness.

There are a huge range of things I have not touched on today, such as the huge costs of homelessness to the economy.  The really big question is does the government have the political will to end homelessness?

Together we can #EndhomelessnessWA - it is just the beginning

After 18 months of solid work to come up with solutions to ending homelessness in Western Australia, the #EndHomelessnessWA alliance recently held several events to showcase its work. 

On 12 April, The State of Homelessness in Australia’s Cities report was greeted by a capacity audience at the Platform, Perth.

Attended by the general-public, members of the homelessness sector, government bodies, and politicians, this ground-breaking piece of research by the Centre for Social Impact at The University of Western Australia (CSI UWA) in partnership with the Australian Alliance to End Homelessness (AAEH) revealed alarming results.

The following day, 13 April, the WA Alliance to End Homelessness (WAAEH) officially launched the ‘The Western Australian Strategy to End Homelessness’. 

18-months in development, this document, was well received by another capacity audience that participated in a reverse panel discussion to further explore how together, they implement the Strategy.  

That evening, one of the most extraordinarily, moving events was staged on the streets of Perth. Hosted by the UWA Conservatorium of Music in partnership with the WAAEH and The Centre for Social Impact, 1,000 musicians including; choirs, ensembles, professionals, school and community groups, joined in as a recorded performance of a homeless man singing a hymn passed by them. 

Hundreds of people moved with the procession as it slowly, and reverently made its way through our streets.  Interspersed by the live performances of Gavin Bryars' Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet, people were drawn to become involved and join the walk which started in the Hay Street Mall.

There are many ways people can get involved to drive this forward, including registering your support to #EndHomelessnessWA by signing the petition at www.endhomelessnessWA.com.

Read : The State of Homelessness in Australia’s Cities: A Health and Social Cost Too High 2018

Read : The Western Australian Strategy to End Homelessness 

Shelter WA, acknowledges its fellow #EndHomelssnssWA alliance members for their work in organising the events that mark the beginning of ending homelessness in WA.