Election 2013 Western Australia March 9

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Housing Availability iT Matters

Greens push housing solution as soaring rents squeeze West Australians

Greens Statement

WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and Lynn MacLaren MLC have called for Federal-State cooperation on a bold new plan to tackle housing affordability.

Senator Ludlam said the Greens "Convert to Rent" initiative would deliver affordable rental properties at a minimum cost and without adding to urban sprawl.

"There are thousands of unused potential dwellings across Western Australia. For example, the vast majority of inner-city Perth shops have empty spaces upstairs. A 2010 City of Perth audit found 80,000m2 of space going to waste. This is a huge untapped resource, and Convert to Rent would provide grants to owners to make them liveable and available as low-cost rentals.

"Today we see Perth's median house rent increased $70 last year to $470 a week. In April last year an extensive study showed that 99.25 per cent of rentals in Western Australia were too expensive for workers on the minimum wage, and 99.8 per cent too expensive for pensioners. Unless we take decisive action, this already dire situation will continue to get worse."

Lynn MacLaren MLC said ‘Convert to Rent' was a proven low-cost and efficient way to deliver more affordable housing.

"Convert to Rent has been running successfully in the City of London in Canada since 2008. It can easily be adopted here to create hundreds of homes in building that are currently unoccupied. It's a simple, sensible, cost-effective way to make the most of housing opportunities."

Senator Ludlam said the Greens had urged the Federal Government to back the plan.

"We submitted a proposal to the Federal Government for the last budget making the case for a $350 million programme - which would have resulted in 15,000 new affordable rental dwellings - as a start. Unfortunately the proposal was rejected but the housing crisis can't be ignored any longer - the Commonwealth and the state and territory governments need to work together to deliver a solution."

Convert to Rent will:

  • Encourage landlords to provide dwellings to people on low-moderate incomes, and set appropriate levels of rents
  • Provide incentives to property owners to convert their unused buildings/empty spaces above shops etc to affordable rental properties ($21,000 per dwelling maximum loan)
  • Provide additional funding of $5000 for buildings and spaced to be modified for people with a disability
  • Set a 20 year caveat for the program and give the federal government first option to purchase the property in the event of a sale
  • Cost: $115 million would fund 5000 conversions including a minimum 15% funding to be available for modifications suitable for people with a disability.

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