Lack of Housing in the Pilbara Forces Families into the Bush

Apr 21, 2022 | State News, Steve Martin MLC

A South Hedland family have been forced out of their private rental and into a tent in the bush because of a lack of affordable rentals in the Pilbara region.

Zakeisha, her husband and their three young children have been living in a tent near the river outside of South Hedland for around twelve months.

The family have been given access to emergency accommodation whilst two of the children are recovering from COVID. Yet when their isolation period ends, Zakeisha and her family will be forced back into their tent.

“This is a really tough situation for Zakeisha and her family,” said Shadow Minister for Housing Steve Martin MLC.

“Sadly, these circumstances are far more common than they should be. Too many vulnerable families have been forced to live in tents or on our streets due to a shortage of affordable rentals and long public housing waitlists.

“There are around 32,800 people on the public housing waitlist. Most people will be waiting at least 2-3 years for a placement, but around 5% of these will be waiting even longer,” said Mr Martin.

Zakeisha was told by representatives from the Department of Communities that her priority application, “would not start until the 18th of November, and then [her] three year waiting period begins.

“We are so angry. They need to look into my kid’s eyes and tell them that they can’t have a home,” said Zakeisha.

Mr Martin said that the government’s attempts to ease the housing and homelessness crisis in both the city and regional WA weren’t effective.

“Whatever they are doing, it obviously isn’t working.

“Last year WA Labor announced a $5 billion budget surplus, and they look set to do the same this year.

“These towns add huge amounts of dollars to the Western Australian economy, but the housing shortage is really extreme in the Pilbara area.

“The Labor Government are happy to fill their coffers with mining royalties from the Pilbara but won’t support the people in the community to access affordable housing.

Since the announcement of a spot purchasing program in September last year, the government has purchased just six properties in the Pilbara region.

“The Government need to act immediately to sort this out,” said Mr Martin.

“There are a number of public housing properties sitting empty and waiting on maintenance before new tenants can move in.

“The State Labor Government should put more effort into getting the stock that they do have ready for tenants and to get some of these vulnerable Western Australians off the street and into a home,” said Mr Martin.