Dis­abled man’s rent shock

Pilbara News - - News - Tom Zaun­mayr

A dis­abled Kar­ratha res­i­dent re­ly­ing on wel­fare pay­ments has hit out at the State Govern­ment af­ter re­ceiv­ing a pub­lic hous­ing rental bill shock in the mail.

Danny O’Dea re­ceived a let­ter in­form­ing him his rental costs would more than dou­ble from $91 to $187 a week from March 28 af­ter the State Govern­ment de­cided to in­clude Com­mon­wealth Govern­ment al­lowances in pub­lic hous­ing rental cal­cu­la­tions.

The move was made in an ef­fort to pro­vide a more eq­ui­table charge for pub­lic hous­ing.

Mr O’Dea is hear­ing im­paired, head in­jured, an in­com­plete para­plegic and lives with his 20-mon­thold son and wife, who acts as his full-time carer.

“We’re al­ready strug­gling and this is just straight out slash and burn — they are tak­ing around $200 a fort­night out of a pay­ment of $669,” he said.

“I’ve con­tem­plated the sce­nario where we would have to leave this house I’ve lived in for 13 years.

“I’d have to get rid of the two dogs — one of them would never find a home be­cause he’s too old. I don’t want to leave Kar­ratha, this is my home. I want to die here.”

Depart­ment of Hous­ing ser­vice de­liv­ery gen­eral man­ager Greg Cash said the changes would bring WA in line with the rest of Aus­tralia.

“The re­cently an­nounced changes seek to ad­dress th­ese anom­alies and en­sure that all pub­lic hous­ing ten­ants pay rent based on 25 per cent of in­come,” he said.

“As ten­ants’ house­hold cir­cum- stances and in­come may have changed since the last time the Hous­ing Au­thor­ity re­viewed their rent, any rent in­crease above the $12 cap will be as a re­sult of an in­crease in in­come or change in house­hold com­po­si­tion.

“Should this ten­ant have spe­cific con­cerns about his or her rent as­sess­ment, they are en­cour­aged to con­tact their lo­cal Hous­ing Au­thor­ity of­fice and our staff will be happy to ex­plain the spe­cific de­tails of their sit­u­a­tion.”

Un­der the changes all ten­ants will ei­ther pay 25 per cent of their house­hold in­come as rent or the mar­ket rent for the prop­erty, whichever is lower.

Pre­vi­ously some ten­ants, such as those re­ceiv­ing Com­mon­wealth as­sis­tance, paid less than 25 per­cent of their in­come in rent.

Shadow hous­ing min­is­ter Fran Lo­gan said the State Govern­ment was at­tack­ing the most vul­ner­a­ble to prop up its “disas­ter” Bud­get.

“In­stead of the hous­ing depart­ment dab­bling in high-end prop­erty de­vel­op­ment in the Pil­bara, they should be fo­cused on pro­vid­ing af­ford­able rental ac­com­mo­da­tion for our most vul­ner­a­ble,” he said.

“The Lib­eral Party and Na­tional Party are ef­fec­tively tak­ing peo­ple’s con­ces­sion pay­ments be­fore it even hits their pocket.”

Peo­ple with Dis­abil­i­ties chief ex­ec­u­tive Sa­man­tha Jenk­in­son said the move could re­sult in a rise in se­verely dis­ad­van­taged house­holds in cri­sis. She said there were “fairer and bet­ter” ways to en­sure hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity.

La­bor Mem­ber for the Min­ing and Pas­toral Re­gion Stephen Daw­son has vowed to take Mr O’Dea’s griev­ances to Par­lia­ment.

Pic­ture: Tom Zaun­mayr

Kar­ratha res­i­dent Danny O’Dea with wife Tess and 20-month-old son Jake.

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