Families grapple with life on the streets as shocking new figures reveal depth of Washington housing crisis

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“What worries me the most is being homeless and not knowing where to start to find a place for myself and my daughters,” Mr. Roe said.

Mr Roe requested several rentals in his daughters’ school catchment area over the past two months, but was faced with dozens of other potential tenants with deeper pockets.

He worries about the impact a transitional lifestyle would have on his daughters’ education and Adamma’s health.

Services providing debt and financial advice have seen a 2,700% increase in the number of callers seeking help since April, with an increase in cases involving housing assistance.

The number of tenants terminated without cause has also increased twelvefold, with landlords seeking to sell their properties or raise rents to take advantage of favorable market conditions.

Most renters like Mr. Roe are entering the tightest private rental market in four decades, where the median rent in the metro area has risen by $ 60 per week over the past year and auction wars for getting property have become commonplace.

Singles on JobSeeker can only afford one property in the metro area, while in areas of the state, a minimum-wage family of four can only rent 3% of the homes listed in the Northwest .

In the social housing sector, the only alternative for those who cannot afford to pay rising rents on the private market, the odds are hardly better.

About 319 tenants received termination notices in April and May and two were evicted, but service providers warn the number could be much higher as most residents of public housing cannot afford to fight against opinions in court, which means that their fate is not recorded.

Sharyn Keating, director of services and operational improvement at the Department of Communities, said most tenants at risk of eviction who engaged with staff were able to stay in their homes.

“Community housing workers will increase their contact with the client and link them to relevant support services to help them resolve issues impacting their rental,” she said.

The waiting list for social housing has climbed to 17,000 applications – 3,220 for priority housing – since the end of the moratorium, but just days after it was lifted, only 235 social housing units were under construction and another 50 under contract. build across the state.

The government has promised to build 870 new public housing units, but the investment fails to replace the 1,155 properties it has sold since taking office in 2017 and has been called “ridiculous and unambitious” by the housing sector. social services.

At the end of May, there were 1,014 vacant social housing units across the state, 159 of which had been offered to those on the waiting list.

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Service providers sounded the alarm bells for an impending tsunami of people in need of urgent help months before the moratorium ended, warning that the sector was already overwhelmed and struggling to meet demand.

Meanwhile, Mr. Roe prays that he can find a place to live before his family is on the streets.

“It’s really frustrating and it’s really sad. People can see that I am doing my best and that the girls are very well educated, ”he said.

“If we can’t find a place to live, we’re going to be homeless. “

If you or someone you know needs help, contact Safety rope on 13 11 14, or Beyond the blue at 1300 22 4636.


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