REIWA boss joins group tackling homelessness

REIWA CEO Cath Hart has been appointed to the WA government’s Housing First Homelessness Advisory Group

REIWA boss joins group tackling homelessness

The head of the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia has joined a government advisory group aimed at battling homelessness in the state.

REIWA CEO Cath Hart has been appointed to the WA government’s Housing First Homelessness Advisory Group, which consists of 17 community and government leaders, including experts and people with lived experience.

The advisory group will shape the McGowan government’s 10-year Strategy on Homelessness 2020-2030, REIWA said in a press release.

“REIWA is acutely aware of the difficulties facing tenants and homeowners amid the current housing crisis and we have a track record of working with our members and refugee centres to reduce homelessness,” Hart said. “Through our Community REInvest program, we work with organisations like the Salvation Army, Anglicare WA and Orana House to help vulnerable tenants, particularly those affected by domestic violence, which is the number-one cause of homelessness among women and children.”

Hart said REIWA also facilitates tenancy training to help people in need transition from crisis accommodation to a home in the rental market. REIWA can also connect those in need with its membership of property managers and socially conscious landlords, she said.

“Property managers and landlords find it very rewarding, and I frequently see them go to extraordinary lengths to find somebody a home,” Hart said. “They have helped dozens of people in the last year alone, and we are expanding the program in response to the crisis facing the community at this time.”

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Hart said that while homelessness carried a stigma, anyone could find themselves without a home given the right circumstances.

“A serious car accident, business failure, relationship breakdown, unemployment or bad health can change the direction of our lives,” she said. “None of these things reflect on a person’s ability to be a quality tenant, but it does mean they often need a helping hand to get their lives back on track.”

The advisory group comes at a time when Australia’s worsening housing crisis, inflation and skyrocketing rents put many at risk of homelessness. In December, Dignity CEO Suzanne Hopkins warned that the country could be facing “a tsunami of homelessness” as housing affordability continued to plummet.

The advisory group will provide advice to John Carey, WA housing and homelessness minister. Hart said REIWA would also share market insights and the experience of its members with the group.

The other members of the group are:

  • Mike Rowe, director-general of communities (chair)
  • Andrew Brien, CEO, City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder
  • Bettina Ugle, managing director, Noongar Mia Mia
  • Corina Martin, CEO, Aboriginal Family Legal Service, Southern Aboriginal Corporation
  • Daniel Morrison, CEO, Wungening Aboriginal Corporation
  • David Pearson, executive officer, WA Alliance to End Homelessness and CEO, Australian Alliance to End Homelessness
  • Debra Zanella, CEO, Ruah Community Services
  • Jonathon Lake, design leader, Gresley Abas Architects
  • Jude Thomas, director of place and community, City of Mandurah
  • Kath Snell, CEO, Shelter WA
  • Kim Robinson, program support officer, social policy, WACOSS
  • Louise Olney, director, building communities, Minderoo Foundation
  • Michael Chester, co-CEO, Uniting WA
  • Natalie Sangalli, general manager, Housing Choices Western Australia
  • Samantha Drury, CEO, St Bartholomew’s House
  • Sharon Gough, CEO, Indigo Junction

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