The Great Southern Housing Initiative has been given the green light to provide urgent quality housing for the region.
Assistant Minister for Regional Development Sussan Ley and Federal Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson met with Great Southern local government representatives in Gnowangerup on Thursday to discuss details of the project.
The Federal Government committed $10 million under Round 1 of Building Better Regions Funding, however the project has been on hold after the WA Labor Government pulled $11.5 million already set aside under the previous Liberal Government through Royalties for Regions.
Minister Ley said the project scope has since been reduced to construct 52 units, instead of the proposed 79, after the WA Government reduced its funding commitment to $2.6 million.
The total project cost is now about $22 million, with the Shire of Broomehill-Tambellup sourcing additional contributors to help offset the reduced WA Government contribution.
“The Great Southern Housing Initiative has been designed to tackle a housing shortage in the region and keep senior residents and key workers living within their regional local communities and support local business,” Minister Ley said.
“It will include 52 units for regional employees and independent living units for seniors across the shires of Broomehill-Tambellup, Cranbrook, Gnowangerup, Jerramungup, Katanning, Kent and Kojonup, Plantagenet and Woodanilling.”
Mr Wilson said he was thrilled the project was able to proceed after a long, hard-fought campaign.
“Unfortunately the project almost didn’t happen due to the WA Labor Government pulling their contribution,” Mr Wilson said.
“I was able to get an assurance from the Federal Government to hold our contribution while the shire’s sought alternative funding.
“Quality housing is important in attracting skilled people to small towns, particularly when regional shires are looking to hire employees for workforce gaps that can’t be filled locally, either in the public or private sector.
“The lack of financial return on building new properties limits the incentive for investment and has created a shortage in suitable accommodation.
“I’m really pleased that we’re able to help these shires fill the gap, because ultimately the ability to retain employees in these areas will support the local economy and ensure the delivery of key services is not hampered by workforce shortages.
“The provision of more seniors’ accommodation is much-needed in the Great Southern. It will reduce the need for seniors to leave their communities at a later stage in life, which either fragments families, or else causes them to relocate to be close to ageing family members.”
The project is expected to be completed by 31 December 2019.