Just Home Margaret River Inc.
A grassroots movement for housing justice in the Augusta Margaret River region
Margaret River working families at risk of homelessness with the end of the moratorium on evictions
1 March 2021
The tourist town of Margaret River is in a severe housing crisis. The region has an extremely low residential vacancy rate of 0.2%, and many local working families are facing homelessness when the WA Government’s moratorium on evictions and ban on rent increases ends on 28 March 2021.
Just Home Margaret River Inc. has today released a report entitled “I wouldn’t wish this on anyone: The Augusta Margaret River housing crisis”. The report shares the experiences of 74 local families affected by the housing crisis (representing households with 191 people, including 75 children), based on a survey conducted in early 2021. The findings are telling:
- 62 respondents (163 householders) are currently looking for a rental property, and 51 respondents are experiencing difficulties finding a rental
- The rental lease is about to expire for 29 respondents, and 20 respondents need to find a new rental because their rental property has been sold or is for sale.
- Most families looking for a rental said they would leave the region if they cannot find a home, which will see a loss of local workers
- The median expenditure on housing is 45% of household income, indicating housing stress
- Most people affected by the housing crisis are employed locally or have caring responsibilities
- Women, especially single mothers, are particularly at risk of homelessness due to the housing crisis
- Most respondents say that the housing crisis is affecting their mental health.
The ending of the moratorium on evictions and ban on rent increases will coincide with the end of JobKeeper and the return to a lower rate of JobSeeker. Nearly 50% of survey respondents receive some form of income support.
The data collected by Just Home is the tip of the iceberg. Based on their own client data and the large number of inquiries between March and December 2020, Just Home calculates that the number of households affected by the housing crisis is at least double the figures collected in the survey. Just Home estimates that at least 150 households (400 local people) are in this precarious situation.
Just Home is calling for the following responses:
- That the WA Government extends the moratorium on evictions and rental increases for a further 12-months.
- That the housing crisis in Augusta-Margaret River is considered an emergency similar to a natural disaster, and a humanitarian response with emergency accommodation and support services is initiated by 29 March 2021 by relevant government authorities in partnership with local stakeholders.
- That the WA Government provides $130,000 in funding to Just Home Margaret River Inc to increase our staffing levels by one full-time staff for 12-months to provide information, referrals, advocacy and support to the growing number of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Augusta-Margaret River.
- That the WA Government urgently constructs at least 200 new social and affordable housing dwellings in the Augusta-Margaret River region.
- That the Department of Housing urgently resolve the issue of 13 empty units in the Margaret River Baptistcare complex to provide affordable housing for aged people.
- That the WA Government vests the vacant WaterCorp site on Terry Road, Margaret River to the Shire of Augusta Margaret River for the purposes of social and affordable housing.
- That the WA government amends the Caravan and Camping Regulations to allow for self-contained mobile dwellings to be permitted on private property for longer than three out of 28 days.
- That the WA Government legislates for a minimum of 20 per cent social and affordable homes in large-scale private residential developments.
- That the rates of JobSeeker and Rent Assistance are increased to reflect real costs of living.
What is Just Home doing about the rental crisis?
Just Home provides a Housing Information and Referral Service for people experiencing homelessness and housing stress. We are also advocating for increased social housing and crisis accommodation in our community. We are actively calling for urgent and effective government responses to the rental crisis. If you are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness, Just Home can assist with information and referrals related to your housing options.
Please note that our service is part-time and Just Home does not provide crisis response. For crisis support, please contact:
Homeless Advisory Service: 1800 065 892 (during business hours)
Crisis Care: 1800 199 008 (after hours)
If this post or survey raises emotional difficulties for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.