Disabled man’s rent shock
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.
Karratha resident Danny O’Dea with wife Tess and 20-month-old son Jake.