It’s a daily occurrence that fills our Facebook feed and the news from the mass media. A shortage of housing, a state-wide crisis, affecting all walks of life. Even those who have a perfect rental record and a well-paying job.
It doesn’t discriminate, although potential tenants otherwise, assert a different story.
With some 17,000 people on the public housing list, including 3,220 listed as priority (WAtoday) that is near impossible to budge, private rental is the only way to go. Is it any wonder the visibility of homelessness has never been so real?
Although the government had pledged to build 870 new houses, which comes after 1155 properties were sold off since they came into power in 2017, only 235 were under construction and a further 50 under contract (WA Today), which does little to ease the public housing crisis. As of May, 1014 social homes were said to be sitting vacant.
The COVID-19 rental evictions moratorium ended on 28 March 2021. Except for the Northern Territory, it was in place all around Australia to support tenants who could not meet their rental agreements during the COVID-19 emergency period.
From the day the moratorium was lifted to now, more than 1,250 tenants have been served with evictions, including 319 of those living in public housing.
Many are lucky to suffice with kind family and friends lending them a couch, a space on the floor for a mattress or even pitching a tent in their backyard. At the cost of potentially severely challenging the mental health for all parties affected, who as a result, would be experiencing high-levels of stress.
With hundreds of people applying for the one rental alone, it’s no wonder thousands of people are struggling to find accommodation, regardless of what race or presumed discrimination they believe they are being subjected to.
Community service agencies are overwhelmed with thousands of calls a month from desperate families seeking urgent accommodation, such as Centrecare. A number of options the government is being called upon to consider include: spot purchasing vacant apartments to make them available as rentals, using empty plots of land to build modular homes, cutting red tape to allow the private sector to speed up the construction of homes, offering out vacant hotel rooms and even increasing emergency relief funding to help those at risk of becoming homeless.
It’s a difficult situation for thousands of people, if not millions and not just limited to Australia. The COVID-19 epidemic has changed our way of life in more ways than one. Whether or not our lives will oneday regain the normality we took for granted, is uncertain. Everything from the way we now work, to the way we shop and learn, has had to adapt to the changes implemented to keep our community safe from potential virus transmissions.
As for housing, we should remain optimistic, especially with thousands of major housing developments progressing well and keeping our economy somewhat strong. It doesn’t help those who are experiencing severe hardship at the moment but we just have to take it one step at a time.