Public housing debt soars
The cost of damage to public housing in Newman is among the highest in the State, with documents revealing more than $80,000 has been racked up so far this financial year.
The amount Housing Authority tenants around the State owe for repairs, rubbish removal, rent and water bills has increased 10 per cent since last year, according to figures from the State Government which show the total debt current and former tenants owe is $46.6 million.
Of the $46.6 million, $35.4 million is owed by former tenants, $7.7 million is being managed by debt collection agencies and $627,000 has been written off.
Authority service delivery general manager Greg Cash said the debt amounted to $1207 a house.
The $11.2 million debt owed by current tenants includes $2.6 million for unpaid rent, $4.2 million for unpaid water bills and $4.4 million for damage and rubbish removal.
The documents, obtained through freedom of information laws, reveal the total amount of damage this financial year was more than $17 million.
The papers also revealed $10 million of the damage was caused up to February.
Kalgoorlie recorded the highest amount of damage at $184,263, followed by Newman $85,241 and Karratha $61,628.
Housing Minister Colin Holt said it was a small proportion of problem tenants who caused the damage.
“To spend taxpayer money repairing property as a result of wilful damage is a disappointing waste of funds that could be better spent elsewhere, ” he said.
Mr Holt stood by his suggestion to take a deduction from tenants’ welfare payments to ensure the debts were paid.
Shadow minister for housing Fran Logan said clearly nothing had been done to reduce the debt.
“I question, once again, what is happening with the debtors. Are they back on the public housing waiting list or even housed and, if so, why,” he said.
“Unless there are clear guidelines on how these debts can be tackled the mountain of money owed will simply get bigger.”
The figures also show the authority recovered $12.3 million between July 1 last year and April 30 this year.
More than $80,000 of damage has been done to public housing in Newman this financial year.