Geraldton public housing: Devil is in the detail of Govt plans

Elise Van Aken & Kate CampbellGeraldton Guardian
Contractors at work in Spalding.
Camera IconContractors at work in Spalding. Credit: Geraldton Guardian/Elise Van Aken

A Geraldton social housing advocate has called for more detail to be released on the State Government’s plans for boarded-up homes across the city following the announcement of a multimillion- dollar package for the sector.

Last week WA Housing Minister John Carey announced $9 million of the 2021-22 State Budget would be allocated to refurbishing government-owned properties in Spalding as part of a $875 million allocation to tackle homelessness and the affordable housing crisis.


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Alannah MacTiernan and Lara Dalton after the State Budget breakfast in Geraldton.
Camera IconAlannah MacTiernan and Lara Dalton after the State Budget breakfast in Geraldton. Credit: Kate Campbell/Geraldton Guardian

Exactly 275 new homes have been planned to be built across regional WA, but speaking in Geraldton on Friday, Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said it was too early to break down where all the promised extra dwellings would be built in the regions.

But she said the people of Geraldton and the Mid West could expect more out of the allocation to social housing than the refurbishment of 45 boarded-up homes and the fixing of street design issues in Spalding.

“Spalding is just one very specific and much-needed project,” she said. “Part of the problem has been a reluctance of people to move into those areas.

“We know that the cul-de-sac design with the walkways has created a concern amongst people that this is an unsafe environment.

“You have to fix up the design elements and renovate and rejuvenate those houses at the same time.”

Ms MacTiernan said addressing the “planning errors” would have a “cascading effect beyond just the immediate project”.

Regional Alliance West operations manager Chris Gabelish
Camera IconRegional Alliance West operations manager Chris Gabelish Credit: Tamra Carr/The Geraldton Guardian

Regional Alliance West operations manager Chris Gabelish said while he welcomed the plan for Spalding, the Government needed to reveal solid plans to refurbish and maintain existing housing that was not available with previously promised funding and the distribution of new homes.

“This 45 social housing properties that will receive refurbishment is really welcome news, that’s 45 properties that will become more available to people that are homeless,” he said.

“The issue we still have with public housing is we still don’t know what their plan is for the maintenance across the rest of Geraldton. There’s still areas across Geraldton where we have a lot of boarded-up properties.

We’ve never been able to get an answer about existing monies which leads me to wonder if they even have a plan for them.

“We would welcome an increase in social housing over the rest of the term of this government.”

Mr Gabelish said it was frustrating for both RAW’s clients and staff to not be able to have prospective tenants placed into homes due to the lack of available stock, especially homes suitable for families with multiple children.

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