Karratha handed housing crisis lifeline

2022-07-27 06:53:48 By : Mr. Tony Chen

The state has handed over swathes of subsidised land for 44 affordable homes in the housing-strapped resources hub of Karratha, but it will only put a small dent in the waiting list.

The state government has handed over swathes of land for 44 affordable accommodation in the housing-strapped resources hub of Karratha, but the project is only expected to put a small dent in the waiting list.

Under the deal, the city will take ownership of three underutilised Crown land parcels spanning 13,563 square metres in the suburb of Bulgarra, with the state shaving 23 per cent, around $470,000, off the market price.

The city intends to build 44 medium-density residential dwellings for medium-income earners within the next three years to address the shortfall in affordable housing.

Karratha has been grappling with a chronic housing shortage for several years, exacerbated by its population tripling over the past decade.

Rising commodities prices and a resurgence in activity have sent the median house price in the oil and gas hub rising 8.2 per cent over the past 12 months, according to REIWA's most recent data.

With an average rent price of $775 per cent, City of Karratha mayor Peter Long said low to middle income workers were effectively priced out of the market and were in need of more affordable options.

To add to the stock issue, a pipeline of multi-billion dollar projects is expected to draw another 20,000 workers to the region over the next decade.

While welcoming the latest transaction, Mr Long conceded the new housing would not sufficiently address the city’s lengthy waiting list.

“Yes, we have a huge waiting list,” he said.

“I think we've got 170 people waiting for the latest 30 apartments; so you can see the problem.

“We've got people like the barbers and the short stackers and the baristas; they can't afford to live here anymore. 

“If you're on $20 to $25 an hour, you just can't make it here. 

“So we are doing other things as well, including building houses on the lazy lands at the government.

"Access to and the cost of housing are a real issue facing residents in our community and a significant factor to achieving our vision of being Australia's most liveable regional city.

"The city has been working on a number of projects with the intention of bringing more accommodation online so this land transfer is a step towards addressing the housing shortage issues in the City of Karratha.”

Premier Mark McGowan said the state government was doing all it could to alleviate housing stress in the region and indicated the exchange would not be the extent of the government’s assistance.

“We're very aware of the housing issues and the housing stress out there,” he said.

“One of the things that we're very keen on is making sure we put in place more measures to provide affordable housing, and we’re working with the city, Rio Tinto and Woodside to make sure more housing is available, particularly for service workers who don't get those big incomes. 

“But we need those people desperately in the Pilbara and refurbishing housing making it more available and affordable for people is an important part of that.”

Record government stimulus, a boom in the construction market and a tightening labour supply has only added to the town’s housing woes.

While acknowledging the tough market conditions, Lands Minister John Carey insisted the state was using every lever it could to boost housing supply in regional communities WA.

In the most recent budget, the state government allocated more than $12 million to enable 62 more residential lots to be released into the housing market and 13 additional modular homes to be built in the Pilbara.

Separately, the state government has handed over half-a-million dollars to assist with the refurbishment of 30 vacant workers' accommodation units donated to the city by Rio Tinto.