West Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and Lynn MacLaren MLC have urged the State and Federal Governments to work together on urgent action to address homelessness, as figures show the public housing wait list has doubled in WA and 14,000 West Australians are now homeless.
"In WA the Director General of housing said public housing wait lists have doubled since 2007, and we have 14,000 homeless people in our state. About 2000 people sleep rough. The chronic affordable housing shortage is one of the consequences of the mining boom, and it's shameful that while this industry makes vast profits many West Australians struggle with their rent or mortgage, or are in desperate need of shelter and are being turned away from services and have no place to call home.
"The state and Federal governments have not prioritised homelessness: The sector has no certainty about funding from next year as the National Partnership on Homelessness expires in June - and is part of the National Affordable Housing Agreement yet to be renegotiated. With the way the state governments have been behaving - I'm anxious about the future of this vital Agreement.
"This crisis is an unnatural disaster. We can solve this situation with political will and vision: For less than one billion dollars we could build a home for every single person in Australia who is literally living on the streets. In Western Australia right now 9 star pre-fabricated homes can be bought for just $70,000 and built in just six weeks.
"The Barnett Government needs to play its part in this partnership," Ms MacLaren said. "We need a significant budget allocation for new social housing stock. Simply transferring existing public housing to community housing providers will not solve homelessness."
Homelessness Australia has said the homelessness sector needs at least $1.2 billion just to continue providing existing programs and services beyond 2013.
"In this years' State budget the WA Government allocated $115 million for handouts to the mining industry to help them drill holes: the ‘Innovative Drilling Program'. This same amount would buy about 1600 new homes - and house almost every homeless person sleeping rough in WA right now. We need to see an Innovative Housing Program," said Senator Ludlam.
"The Greens call for urgent and long-term funding to provide housing and services for all of Australia's homeless persons; now well over 100,000 people. If the Federal Government is serious about halving homelessness by 2020 - as promised in Kevin Rudd's White Paper - it needs to commit the funding now and end the uncertainty.
"The national partnership on homelessness allocated one billion dollars over the last five years to homelessness. We give away at least double this amount every year to property investors who already own at least one house through negative gearing."