Denmark community unites for long-term solution to tourist town’s housing woes

Headshot of Sarah Makse
Sarah MakseAlbany Advertiser
The Bricks and Mortar Housing Alliance is joining forces to combat Denmark’s housing shortage.
Camera IconThe Bricks and Mortar Housing Alliance is joining forces to combat Denmark’s housing shortage. Credit: Albany Advertiser

Behind its tourist town image, Denmark is facing an “alarming” and “drastic shortage of housing” prompting a grassroots push for a long-term solution in a region community groups say has been overlooked in WA’s response to homelessness.

The Bricks and Mortar Housing Alliance, a joint initiative between the Denmark Community Resource Centre, the Homeless Project Denmark, and concerned locals, aims to raise awareness about the town’s housing woes.

By working with other community groups and local government, the alliance is advocating for a plan to secure more than 15 homes for people in need.

Denmark CRC manager Petra Thompson said it was a “myth” the Great Southern did not have housing issues.

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This week, there were only three houses to rent in Denmark.

According to the CRC, local real estate agents had reported an average rental price in Denmark between $360 and $400, with long waiting lists.

Bidding for rentals was also occurring, which put people on lower incomes at a further disadvantage.

Ms Thompson said an increase in house sales during COVID-19, investment properties being converted to Airbnbs, and climbing rental prices meant services had seen a rapid rise in calls for assistance.

One week this month, the Denmark CRC paid for emergency accommodation for two people.

“In Denmark, we have had a problem for a long time, but it has not really been acknowledged,” Ms Thompson said.

“People have been working on this for the last 20 years to try and get someone to listen.

“Now COVID-19 has highlighted the problem.

“Whether you have a secure job, income or references — it is not relevant.

“The fact is that there is nowhere to go. We are seeing people using community services they have never needed to use.”

Ms Thompson said with the end of the COVID-19 moratorium on evictions and rent rises in sight, people faced the possibility of having nowhere to go.

“It has made it hard for people to exist, really, because all their money goes to rent and then there is nothing left,” she said. “We also have a big emergency program running here at the CRC with food and food vouchers.”

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