The State Government has championed its record budget investment into social housing, but the opposition argues it won’t solve the rental crisis facing many regional towns. As foreshadowed ahead of this week’s State Budget, Housing Minister John Carey revealed a record $2.1bn social housing investment which would deliver some 275 new regional homes by mid-2023. Some $80m of that will go towards 150 modular homes and $10m to spot purchase about 25 houses from the market for social housing. “The Department of Communities will be working to determine the most appropriate location for these additional homes based on community need across the State,” Mr Carey said. “We've seen really positive signs in the private market with almost 4000 home approvals in regional areas in 2020-21, which will significantly ease the current squeeze in the rental market.” But WA Nationals MP Vince Catania said that would do little to address housing and staff shortages in regional WA. “With essential and seasonal workers locked out, immediate solutions around the G2G passes, vaccinations and quarantine processes need to be found before the full impact of this situation hits the hip pocket of every West Australian,” he said. “Finding workable solutions may require the WA Government to put their hand in their pocket and share the load with the Commonwealth Government to ensure our businesses across all industries continue to function and contribute to our economy.” “Staff and accommodation shortages reached a critical point for businesses across regions months ago, with operators working very long days, being physically exhausted and mentally fatigued and unable to meet demand – which is affecting their operations, income, health, and well-being.” Mr Catania said businesses in tourism towns such as Exmouth and Broome were still struggling to house what staff they could find. “Camp grounds are still overflowing, and houses are demanding higher and unaffordable prices or have been moved to the short-term rental market to meet visitor demand,” he said. The total State Budget package will see 3,300 new social housing dwellings funded in WA.