60-week blowout

PEOPLE are waiting 60 weeks longer than they were five years ago to get into public housing in the Fremantle region.

The WA housing department revealed to the Herald this week that people on its books were waiting on average 157 weeks—three years—to get into a house. In June 2010 it was 97 weeks.

The figure is worst for those who aren’t deemed a priority. Over the same period the number of people on the waiting list has dropped from 1729 to 1388.

Anyone pinning their hopes on getting into long-planned public housing on a vacant super-block in White Gum Valley is in for a rude shock: as flagged by the Herald last week that project has been axed.

Homeswest acting director-general Paul Whyte says the land is too valuable for public tenancies: the department will sell the blocks and use proceeds to “support affordable housing opportunities in alternative locations”.

He notes the department has provided 19,000 places under its affordable housing strategy—just 1000 shy of its 20,000 target for 2020.

He says Homeswest scored $560 million in this year’s state budget for 1500 homes, and will work with Fremantle council to “explore other renewal and redevelopment opportunities in Hilton and Beaconsfield”.

Willagee Labor MP Peter Tinley accuses the department of land-banking while people go homeless.

His office has been watching several Homeswest-owned properties that have been vacant for years. Some are boarded up but others have been demolished. The department’s told him it doesn’t let the places because it wants councils to rezone so it can build more units. But the MP says people can’t wait and shouldn’t have to, if homes are available: “Every week I have people attending my office who have been on the public housing waiting list for years and years,” he says. “To see dormant housing lots is very frustrating.”


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