Look To Past For Solution To Current Housing Crisis


WA’s population grew 3.3 per cent to 2.905 million in the year to September 2023, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Nearly 79,000 people moved to our state from interstate and overseas during that period. If you assume there are 2.5 people per household, that equates to about 31,600 new households needing somewhere to live.

However, various constraints in the residential building industry mean supply is not keeping up with demand. In the year to September 2023 just over 16,200 private dwellings were completed. That’s a shortfall of about 15,400 homes.

As a result, more people are turning to the established market to put a roof over their heads. This is putting strong upward pressure on sale and rent prices, making housing less affordable for many people.

The vulnerable in our community have become even more vulnerable and we are seeing a new brand of homelessness as many people find themselves houseless, i.e. unable to find a home even if they can afford one.

We need more homes, but we know there isn’t enough capacity in the building industry to ease the shortfall using current methods.

It’s time for some quick and innovative solutions, and for that we can look to the past.

WA has been very good at building transportable homes for the mining industry over the years, and we can play to that strength to address the current issues with housing supply.

For example, a simple survey strata subdivision with transportable homes, which can last several decades, will be a very cost-effective and quick way to deliver large portions of housing to the market. The land can then be redeveloped at a later date.

The only barriers to this will be power/water and sewerage infrastructure, and of course planning complexities, however planning complexities can be solved with a stroke of a Minister’s pen as we have seen recently with various Cook Government initiatives.

I grew up in Manjimup forestry settlements, which were all government-provided housing, and included numerous transportable homes that were trucked in as needed.

Are transportables people’s dream homes? No, but they would address the incredible housing shortfall we’re facing. People can rent them for an affordable amount and move into a private rental or build/buy their own home when they can.

This approach would be of particular benefit in the regions where businesses are struggling to find staff because potential employees can’t find a place to live.

I acknowledge that the Government has recently announced a four-home, tiny homes social housing pilot project, but we need to look at a large-scale, quick solution to help meet the housing shortfall, even if it may only be temporary.

Joe White

REIWA President

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