OPINION: Homeless anger in Geraldton at boiling point

Steve Martin MLCGeraldton Guardian
Liberal member for the Agricultural region Steve Martin in Geraldton.
Camera IconLiberal member for the Agricultural region Steve Martin in Geraldton. Credit: Geoff Vivian/The Geraldton Guardian

The Geraldton residents who attended the community meeting on July 2 have every right to be angry and frustrated at the housing and homelessness crisis gripping the city.

Their message was very clear to anyone who was there — no more committees, no more glossy consultants’ proposals, no more promises of investment in years to come.

They need a home, and they need it now.

Organiser Mandy Melrose and the others like her facing the real dilemma of having nowhere to live are frustrated.

Despite rental prices being 25 per cent higher than last year, residents spoke about offering hundreds of dollars more than the advertised price for properties and continuing to be turned away.

The rental vacancy rate in Geraldton is currently at 1.3 per cent, and the public housing waitlist has more than tripled.

To keep off the streets, families are being forced to sleep in their cars, sleep on their friends’ couches, and set up tents in backyards.

As I travel throughout regional WA, I am seeing the same situation in each town.

The people of Geraldton want meaningful steps to be taken to solve this housing crisis.

The State Labor Government must take the measures necessary to ensure more families do not end up without a roof over their heads.

At the meeting, residents put forward multiple solutions to fix the problem.

Suggestions such as repairing unused public housing properties, building modular homes, and refurbishing empty accommodation were all put forward.

However, there already is a clear solution.

Despite being adopted by the council and the State Government last year, homes are still boarded up in Spalding.

The plan was designed to help direct the Spalding community towards the development and revitalisation of Spalding.

It included supporting the refurbishment and maintenance of existing housing stock, as well as providing housing that meets the needs of the “current and future community”.

Despite being adopted by the council and the State Government last year, homes are still boarded up in Spalding.

I am calling for the State Government to take the steps necessary to ensure the work needed for the precinct plan is fast-tracked.

The member for Geraldton must step up and work with the council to ensure families are not left to fight this battle alone.

I want to be very clear — this is the responsibility of the State Labor Government.

The City of Geraldton ratepayers do not have the resources to take on a task of this scale.

Thanks to the efforts of regional WA, our State has a $5 billion Budget surplus. It is time the State Labor Government put that money to good use and supported our regional communities.

Steve Martin is a Liberal member for the Agricultural Region

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