Homelessness remains a problem in WA and there is much to be done to help our fellow West Australians affected by this.
National Homelessness Week kicks off on Monday 6 August, with this year’s campaign reminding Australians ‘there’s always something you can do’.
As part of the campaign, Shelter WA will be running a series of events in the metro area to raise awareness of homelessness across the state. Landlords Making A Difference is one of these events (details available at shelterwa.org.au), with WA landlords invited to attend to hear from government, industry and not-for-profit sector speakers about the actions they can take – small and large – to help in the fight against homelessness.
WA needs more diverse rental housing
The private rental market plays a vital role in helping to provide safe, affordable and accessible housing. Recently, REIWA met with Shelter WA to discuss our shared priorities of delivering a more diverse range of rental properties to accommodate WA’s changing housing needs.
Currently, the WA rental market does not adequately cater to those most at risk of homelessness, with Anglicare WA’s 2018 Rental Affordability Snapshot highlighting this issue. The snapshot found less than a quarter of rental properties in Perth are affordable for families where one parent is earning the minimum wage and the other is caring for small children, while even fewer properties are affordable to those who receive a pension or other forms of income support.
While these big, systemic issues can feel beyond the scope of any individual, there are still plenty of things landlords can do to make a difference. For example, allowing pets in the home can make a big difference to someone who is fleeing family violence and looking for a new place to rent, but is fearful of leaving their pet behind.
Victims of family violence at risk
Family violence is a key contributor to homelessness. Victims of family violence suffer significant hardships when they are forced to leave a rental home. They are at risk of homelessness, loss of employment opportunities and disruption to their children’s education. They also frequently carry the financial burden when a tenancy ends, such as paying unpaid bills they are not wholly responsible for.
Supporting these victims is just one way landlords can make a difference. REIWA recognises the role our industry plays and we are supportive of the Government’s efforts to amend the Residential Tenancies Act to better assist victims of family violence. We have been working with the Government to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place to maintain a supportive environment for property investment, while ensuring victims have better protection within the context of a residential setting.
We all have a part to play in helping those who struggle to find appropriate housing opportunities. I encourage everyone to look at the small ways they can help make a big difference to those sleeping rough on our streets this Homelessness Week.
Support WA’s homeless
If you’d like to help out those sleeping rough on our streets, please consider donating.
By doing so, you’ll be helping REIWA’s Community REInvestpartner, The Salvation Army, provide much-needed services to those in need such as meals, accommodation and crisis counselling.