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There are currently 14,000 families on WA’s social housing waiting list, waiting an average of 94 weeks for a home. Another 9,000 Western Australians are experiencing homelessness with 1000 of these sleeping rough each night.
Housing construction is one of the most powerful job keepers and economic multipliers across the economy, and construction will play a huge role in WA’s economic recovery. Stimulus spending on social housing provides one of the best opportunities to save existing jobs in the housing sector and create new jobs over the long term but has the extra added benefit of providing much-needed housing for Western Australia’s most vulnerable.
These new dwellings should be energy-efficient buildings built to at least 7.5 stars (NatHERS rating) that generate their own renewable energy, slashing power pills for already stretched social housing tenants.
What are we proposing?
Clean State is advocating for a Low Carbon Social Housing Construction stimulus package that:
- Delivers 15,000 new social housing dwellings built to 7.5-star (NatHERS rating) and the ‘Improved Liveability’ accessibility standard within three years.
- Provides each home with 3kw rooftop solar systems (and battery systems to multi-unit dwellings)
- Leverages support for a local low-emission building materials sector using sustainable building products
- Uses government-owned land and prioritises sites along future transit routes as two opportunities to catalyse urban regeneration and affordable living in these sites.
What are the benefits?
In addition to the incredible social benefits having a safe, secure and affordable place to live will have on people experiencing homelessness, our buildings package will have a huge economic impact. The ABS has reported that housing construction is one of the best forms of stimulus, generating $3 of economic activity for every $1 invested.
Building new and efficient housing will have the added benefit of saving over 84,000 tones of carbon pollution every year.
How many jobs will this create?
This construction program would create 58,500 total full-time equivalent construction jobs, and 1,160 jobs in installing rooftop solar. In addition, the program would create jobs for office staff, admin, as well as additional staff for the Department of Communities who would be overseeing the program and measuring outcomes.
But what would it cost?
Building houses is expensive but is also an incredible investment. Once the homes are built, the WA Government (or housing providers) own the assets which generally increase in value over time. Tenants in social housing also provide rental income, which contributes additional money to offset the costs of construction (at around $78m per year).
There are also new innovative models of financing social housing construction - including social impact bonds, blended finance models and aggregating investment from institutional investors (like banks or superannuation funds). Our package would cost $4.7 billion over three years, using an average of between $240,000 - $388,000 per dwelling.
Acknowledgements and Endorsements
Our buildings package is endorsed by the Australian Insulation Foundation, Insulation Australasia, and Kingspan Insulation. Clean State is grateful to Make Renting Fair, WACOSS, the Energy Efficiency Council, ASBEC, Shelter WA, Access Housing and Renew who were consulted in the development of this package.