The Department of Housing celebrates a significant milestone in its history today – 100 years of providing affordable housing for Western Australians.
Director General Grahame Searle said the Workers’ Homes Board, which was established on 20 February 1912, was the forerunner of today's Department.
“At the time rents and building materials were expensive and this, coupled with 9,562 government-assisted British immigrants arriving in 1911, resulted in a lack of affordable housing,” Mr Searle said.
"In response Parliament established the Board along with a scheme to reduce the cost of housing for those who had jobs but who still struggled to afford to buy or rent a house.”
The Workers' Homes board was later replaced by the State Housing Commission after World War Two, and later became known as Homeswest before the current Department was formed in 2001.
Mr Searle said that during the last 100 years the agency had made an enormous contribution to the development of Western Australia and ensuring that those most in need have a roof over their heads.
“We’ve built thousands of houses across Western Australia for both home ownership and public rental,” he said.
“Housing affordability still remains a real problem for those on low to medium incomes and will only increase with the State’s rapid population growth.
“In 2011 the State Affordable Housing Strategy was launched where at least 20,000 additional affordable rental and home ownership opportunities will be provided to people on low to moderate incomes by 2020.
“We are also partnering with builders and developers to lower the cost of home ownership.
“The Department is currently selling high-quality houses for less than $300,000 in the Perth metro area, with generous options for those on low to medium incomes who might otherwise not be able to finance an outright home purchase.”
Mr Searle today visited the first house built by the Workers’ Homes Board in 1913, a property on Forrest Street in Fremantle.
“The property was built through a ‘lease-hold’ agreement where the owner rented the land from the Government and built a property on the land,” he said.
“The owner paid 11 pence for the land and 11 shillings per week to repay the housing, an equivalent of $285 in today’s money – a similar cost to renting at the time.”