Western Australia Minister for Housing Bill Marmion
Community Providers Engaged To Help Stem Social Housing Waiting List
Victor P Taffa
The State Government has announced a significant new initiative to accelerate the growth of social housing in Western Australia by placing as many as 559 new dwellings with not-for-profit community housing providers in the coming half-year.
Consistent with agreements between the State and the Commonwealth, the ownership of a significant proportion of houses being built with economic stimulus funding will be offered to non-government community housing organisations able to demonstrate they can manage and grow large portfolios of rental housing.
Housing Minister Bill Marmion said the potential transfer of housing worth $169 Million to established community housing organisations was essential to help address the shortage of social housing.
“Traditionally the Department of Housing has managed the bulk of social housing.” Mr. Marmion said.
“However, with a growing waitlist of nearly 24,000 applications from people on low incomes and increasing pressure in the real estate market, we need to look to innovative solutions for building the stock of homes more rapidly.”
“There are a number of community housing organisations already registered with the Department of Housing and operating in WA and they have financial and other advantages not available to the department.”
“Once established, this system will give the participating providers equity with which to leverage capital borrowings for the construction of additional dwellings of their own.”
“Our end goal is to have a much greater pool of homes and a wider range of social housing options available to the growing number of people in the community in need.” Mr. Marmion said.
The Minister said the model was already operating successfully in New South Wales and Victoria.
Announcing a Request for Proposals (RFP) inviting qualified community housing organisations to submit proposals for assuming freehold title to 559 stimulus-funded dwelling units, Mr Marmion said the RFP contained comprehensive and stringent requirements.
Under formal Community Housing Agreements with providers, the State will retain a caveat over titles stipulating that homes can be let only to applicants on the social housing waitlist or from low income categories in the Affordable Housing and Commonwealth Rental Assistance programs.
As well as oversight of the dwelling allocations and lettings, the State will retain a veto over the titles preventing any sale or assignment without the Government’s permission.
“The key requirement for the transfer of title is that the successful organisation must use the assets to leverage additional housing and retain the housing in perpetuity for community purposes.” the Minister said.
“The aim is to unlock the equity in current housing assets to grow the overall pool.”
“This initiative has been trialled and operated successfully in other jurisdictions in Australia.”
“Increasing the capacity of the community sector to deliver services, including the community housing sector, is a key strategic direction of this Government.” Mr. Marmion said.
“The Department of Housing has registered six larger community housing ‘Growth Providers’ who already own or head lease 2,200 properties, and in recent years the department has been working to help these organisations scale up in terms of financial viability, asset management experience and outcomes for tenants.” Mr. Marmion said.
Dwellings included in the RFP process will be located in Metropolitan Perth, Northam, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Bunbury and Geraldton.