Geraldton housing crisis talks: Community members to meet politicians to discuss city’s rental strain

Headshot of Lisa Favazzo
Lisa FavazzoGeraldton Guardian
The women behind Facebook group Housing Crisis Geraldton WA are Anne-Marie Cox, Jacquie Law, Jean Webb and Amanda Melrose.
Camera IconThe women behind Facebook group Housing Crisis Geraldton WA are Anne-Marie Cox, Jacquie Law, Jean Webb and Amanda Melrose. Credit: Lisa Favazzo

A group of Geraldton women want to make sure the hidden victims of the city’s housing crisis are heard loud and clear as a shortage of rental homes pushes families to the brink of homelessness.

Amanda Melrose, who runs the Facebook group Rental Crisis Geraldton WA, said: “(Group members) are telling me they are so broken they want to end their life and they feel guilty because they can’t provide for their kids.”

In less than three days, the group attracted more than 300 members and organised a meet-and-greet with local politicians at the Mitchell Street Community Centre for 9.30am today.

WA is grappling with a rental crisis, and Geraldton is in the thick of it.

The city’s vacancy rate has plummeted to 1.3 per cent, its priority public housing waiting list has spiralled out of control, and eviction requests to the courts have doubled since a COVID-imposed moratorium was lifted.

Ms Melrose and administrators Anne-Marie Cox and Jacquie Law want to advocate for political action, fight stigma, and encourage people to reach out and take care of each other.

“When I started that page, I didn’t realise how many people were hiding in the shadows because of stigma,” Ms Melrose said.

Local and State government representatives will attend the event, bringing ideas to the table.

Echoing calls on social media, Mayor Shane Van Styn wants the Department of Communities to “renovate and return to service all the boarded up houses”.

We hear much about the Government’s record investment into public housing, but we are yet to see any of it on the ground,” he said.

The department says 93 homes in the City of Greater Geraldton are vacant.

Service and operation improvement director Sharyn Keating said 30 were previously “earmarked for demolition” and the department was reviewing that decision.

She said delays caused by the collapse of construction company Pindan, which had a public housing maintenance contract, were “being resolved, and works are continuing on track”.

Shadow housing minister Steve Martin wants Labor to call the situation a “crisis”, calling for an emergency response.

“I am surprised at how little we have heard from the Housing Minister (John Carey) and Premier (Mark McGowan),” he said. Geraldton MLA Lara Dalton said the shortage of rental stock was “plain to see”, and the answer was to build more homes.

She pointed to the 100 per cent increase in new home approvals in Geraldton over the last financial year, with 171 new homes signed off on in 2020-21.

“This will bring relief as a significant number of those new homes are for first-homebuyers, and most of those people will be moving out of their rental accommodation,” Ms Dalton said.

“We should also make sure we remember thousands of Western Australians will be able to enter home ownership for the first time.”

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