It was disheartening when a local barber rang me recently to say he really doesn’t want to, but he had to leave town because he couldn’t afford a doubling of his rent on his $60,000 salary.
It is disheartening because we have spent the last ten years trying to make this a liveable city which involves minimising the impacts of the resource cycles, but here we are again with rents sky-rocketing.
Housing is not the job of Local Government – it is the State and the resource companies’ responsibility, but unfortunately, no one is easing the burden. So, in late 2019, with 4-bedroom house rents in Karratha already twice that of other regional areas, we knew we had to act.
Council put aside money in the hope of partnering with developers to build new houses to ease the upcoming rental boom. Then COVID struck and the nation went into lock-down. Projects were postponed and the building industry suffered enormously.
Now on the other side of COVID, projects have been approved and rents have already reached $1800 per week.
Council is executing a number of projects to ease rental prices. We have built 9 new houses over the last 18 months and intend to keep building several a year. Rio Tinto has generously given us 30 old flats which we are bringing up to scratch and will have those available by the end of the year. Rio and Woodside have loaned us houses we are providing to Health and NFP workers.
We are building a new apartment block in Sharpe Av which will have over 80 apartments with public spaces on the ground floor. We have developed our own residential sub-division and are planning for more blocks on vacant land withing the current town boundaries.