Occident Prone

Welcome to Australia’s wild West

Posts Tagged ‘Boom’

Give me a home among the gum trees … or anywhere

Posted by occidentprone on July 16, 2008

The New York Times reports that more struggling Americans are taking in boarders to cover costs in the housing disaster over there. This helps the homebuyers battling to make ends meet and it gives cheap rent to the otherwise homeless.

Could this be a trend here in WA – as if the desperate haven’t already thought of it – where agencies mediate between would-be boarders and landlords.

Like other home-sharing agencies, St. Ambrose conducts background checks on both parties, screening out people with criminal records or histories of drug or alcohol abuse, or those who cannot afford to be stable homeowners or renters. A 10-point questionnaire sorts candidates’ feelings about pets, smoking, overnight guests and other points of compatibility.

“So far we’ve had no bodily damage,” said Annette Brennan, the program’s director (St. Ambrose provides a full range of housing services). “I say that quietly so as not to jinx it.”

In some communities, local zoning laws or homeowner associations may limit the number of nonrelated people who can live in a house. Ms. Brennan said that home-sharing could help some people caught in the housing downturn, but that its benefits were limited.

“Where we see it being of value is if someone is having short-term problems,” she said. “The average stay of a sharer is about a year, and some are much less. It’s good for someone leaving a marriage or a relationship, or going to school. You can’t count on it as a regular income. It’s a stopgap.”

Nearly 1000 people a week are moving to WA after hearing the streets are paved with gold, and experts and economists say the state needs that many to staff the boom.

There will inevitably be even more people falling in the gaps if their expectations are not met; if they can’t afford to live where the jobs are; if their relationship disintegrates after arrival; if they have health or other problems while isolated from friends and family interstate or overseas. It happens to people attracted to the bright lights of LA and New York and London, it happened to those who rushed to the gold fields in the 1800s, it’s happening anywhere there’s a fortune to be made.

Last year, Mission Australia said:

One of WA’s leading providers of crisis accommodation services has seen a large increase in the number of families needing housing support who are unable to pay the spiralling rents and mortgages brought about by the state’s booming housing market.
Between July and December 2003, Mission Australia’s Wattle House community service in Maddington received 329 requests for housing from families. Three and a half years later, between January and June 2007, the same service had 439 families requiring housing support – an increase of more than 30 per cent.
Mission Australia’s State Director, WA, Angie Paskevicius, said due to the large increase in housing prices and rents in Perth and WA over the past three years, more and more families were finding themselves homeless, at risk of homelessness, or living in overcrowded and unsuitable accommodation.

There’s another boom going on here too, a boom in social disasters, but it’s difficult to spot if you’ve got your eye on the stock market or your rental property.

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Will the pension stretch to Wii games and ritalin?

Posted by occidentprone on July 9, 2008

People on the single aged pension are struggling and are making sacrifices that they shouldn’t have to just to get by, according to a story in The West Australian on Monday.

The story, “Rising costs hit make-do generation” on page 17, was not posted on the West website so I can’t link to it but it quoted Bunbury woman June Wood who had lived through the Great Depression of the 30s and now was battling to afford food and shelter on the pension with the rising costs of living.

It seems unfair that Ms Wood should have to bear such heavy burdens at both ends of her life but the questions it raises are these:
Is her generation better equipped to handle the frugality and restraint required post-retirement?
What will happen when the first consumer generation, the Baby Boomers, the oldest of whom are now 62, start relying on social services en masse, supported by the even more self-absorbed generations beneath them?
Even more scary, what kind of world will we have when Gen X and Gen Y have to scale back their consumerism and me-itis and line up on pension day. (Of course we’ll all be reliant on self-funded retirement by then and the financial landscape will look a whole lot different.)

Nearly everyone born and raised in Australia after WWII has had a fairly cruisy economy compared to those scarred by the wars and the Depression. These left lifelong habits – using leftovers, keeping chooks, cutting coupons, helping neighbours in trouble, wearing clothes till they fade or don’t fit – that younger generations scorn. But people born up to the 1940s have built resourcefulness and resilience the rest of us might one day need.

In Western Australia, all this is exacerbated by the boom. It has heightened Gen Y’s sense of entitlement and already overinflated self-assuredness because they can walk into any job they want, practically, even if they haven’t earnt it and aren’t qualified for it. And it has sent the price of accommodation careening off so that pensioners and other low-income sectors can barely pay the rents asked or afford a mortgage. All on top a world food and oil crisis.

It’s about time we all got a bit of that community mindedness and resourcefulness because our day will inevitably come, unless they develop a pill to fix it for us – it’s got us this far.

Read more about a Perth Gen Y perspective and the debate that follows at Sunili’s blog.

Posted in Diversions, Perth | Tagged: | 5 Comments »