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Housing crisis to get worse as WA loses thousands of affordable homes

Shelter WA 3 mins read

Shelter WA is calling on the state government to set up an affordable rental housing scheme, warning more renters are at risk of homelessness when thousands of affordable rentals exit the current federal scheme.

 

From now until the end of 2026, the majority of Western Australia’s 3,385 affordable rentals under the federal government’s discontinued National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) are expected to be lost to the private market.  

 

Shelter WA is calling on the Cook Government to take action to preserve - and ultimately grow - the supply of affordable rental homes in WA. 

 

One option, which has been successfully adopted in Queensland, is to purchase the remaining NRAS properties for community housing organisations to continue managing as affordable rental housing. 

 

Another option Shelter WA has identified is for the government to establish its own  affordable rental fund to increase the supply of affordable rental homes in WA by as many as 20,000 over ten years, through a direct subsidy. 

 

Saving NRAS homes

In 2021 there were about 5,000 NRAS properties remaining in the scheme in WA. Between 2021 to the end of 2023, more than 1,500 NRAS properties exited the scheme in WA. 

While there are NRAS dwellings across 140 metropolitan and regional areas in WA, the suburbs set to be hit hardest by the loss of remaining 3,385 NRAS WA properties include the inner and outer suburbs of Perth and Mandurah. 

 

Suburb

Affordable rentals exiting NRAS (2024-26)

1. Crawley (UWA)

242 

2. Nedlands (UWA)

235

3. Perth

178

4. Bentley 

137

5. Gosnells

130

6. Coodanup

109

7. Ashby

107

8. Ellenbrook

100

9. Leederville

99

10. Cannington / Mandurah

84 each  (equal 10th place)

Source: National Rental Affordability Scheme Quarterly Performance Report 31 December 2023

Shelter WA chief executive Kath Snell said the loss of the NRAS properties adds further pressure to the worst ever rental crisis on record. “Right now, Western Australia has an estimated shortfall of nearly 54,000 social and affordable homes - any loss of guaranteed, affordable rentals is a major blow that may exacerbate the housing and homelessness crisis,” Ms Snell said.

“The ongoing loss of affordable NRAS homes undermines the WA Government’s significant investments in addressing the housing crisis. Across the state, people are seeking homelessness assistance for the first time - the loss of affordable rentals could see this rise further.

 

A new investment fund

 

“Affordable rentals are the missing middle in WA’s housing landscape and the critical link between social housing and the private rental market. But there is a desperate lack of supply.

 

“This is why we’re also calling for the creation of a long term affordable rental supply investment fund.

 

“The WA Government has an opportunity to mirror and build on the Queensland Government’s initiative to purchase and retain dwellings exiting the NRAS. It could also establish a new affordable rental fund targeted towards increasing the supply of affordable rental housing.

 

“The new affordable rental fund would operate in a similar way to the WA Government’s

Social Housing Investment Fund, but would be targeted towards increasing the supply of affordable rental housing. It could also operate similarly to the Commonwealth’s NRAS scheme, with our research suggesting a subsidy of around $8,500 per dwelling per year for ten years would be sufficient to incentivise participants in a new scheme.

 

“To ensure all future developments in WA deliver a good mix of social and affordable rental homes this fund is essential. 

 

“There are virtually no affordable rental properties available for Western Australians on lower and even medium incomes, adding further demand for social housing and upward pressure on the state’s social housing waitlist. We also have essential workers, including aged and childcare workers, who don’t qualify for social housing but are plunging deeper into housing stress because there’s no affordable homes to rent.” 

 

Shelter WA is calling for the WA Government to take action to maintain and grow affordable housing. Ways this could be done include: 

  1. Purchase the remaining NRAS properties and have community housing organisations manage them as affordable rental stock in perpetuity ($1.7 billion for around 3,000 dwellings), and

  2. Create a new affordable rental housing fund. This could include establishing a new fund, distributing around $47.6 million per year for 5,000 affordable rental homes through to $196 million per year for 20,000 affordable rental dwellings over ten years.

Read more about this pre-budget ask here.

Shelter WA Chair Kieran Wong is available for interviews today between 11am and 11.20am, as well as between 2pm and 3.30pm.

Media contact: Sofie Wainwright 0403 920 301 

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