Worst in WA: Kimberley public housing wait times exceed four years

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Shadow Housing Minister Steve Martin.
Camera IconShadow Housing Minister Steve Martin. Credit: Supplied/RegionalHUB

The public housing waitlist in the Kimberley is the worst in the State with those in need having to wait an average of more than four years to be assigned a home, according to recently released statistics.

Numbers supplied in Parliament on September 19 in answer to questions asked by Shadow Housing Minister Steve Martin reveal the wait time for public housing in the West Kimberley had blown out to an average of 226 weeks, or four years and four months.

It wasn’t much better for those on the priority list with an average wait time of 118 weeks or two years and three months.

The East Kimberley was slightly better than the West with an average wait time of 154 weeks but times for the priority list were slightly worse with an average wait time of 121 weeks or nearly three years.

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Shadow Housing Minister Steve Martin said even a two-year wait on the priority list meant “the system is failing”.

“The Cook Labor Government has ignored the housing crisis in regional WA and in particular the impact that is being felt in the Kimberley,” he said.

“The regional rental market is very tough with extremely low vacancy rates and rising rents. Local governments are being forced to use ratepayers’ money to provide housing to attract and keep the staff they need. Perth-based councils don’t have to do that.

“Regional communities and economies will not reach their potential if the housing crisis is not solved. We need people in regional WA and we need to house them.”

Since October last year 93 additional applicants have been put on the list, increasing from 1182 to 1275 applications.

Agriculture Minister Jackie Jarvis said median wait times were a “more accurate” reflection of wait times but there was little difference between the two figures with median wait standing at 191 weeks for the West Kimberley and 140 weeks for the East.

It was the same story with the median figures for the priority wait lists with 90 weeks in the West Kimberley and 112 weeks in the East.

“Applicants with higher than average wait times are generally outliers that have access to housing while remaining eligible for public housing,” Ms Jarvis said.

The minister listed a slew of reasons for the bloated wait time numbers, including applicants sourcing alternative housing, limited housing in the applicant’s preference zone, applicants needing to be close to support networks, and applicants being incarcerated.

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