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‘No fixed address’: Evictions intensify housing crisis


After being evicted from public housing, Aboriginal woman Clarice Quartermain was left homeless.

“It’s really depressing,” he told AAP.

“This is mentally and emotionally draining me and some days I feel like giving up.”

Ms. Quartermain is not alone, with a national housing and homelessness crisis only getting worse.

Jesse Noakes works with House the Homeless WA.

He said data provided by the Department for Communities showed Aboriginal people were being evicted from public housing at twice the rate of other people in the state.

And people are dying while they are homeless.

Lisa Wood, from the University of Notre Dame, said that since 2017, the Home2Health research team has been compiling a database of people who died homeless in Perth.

He said that in 2022, 107 people died homeless, with an average age of 50, and a third of those people identified as indigenous.

Professor Wood said that homelessness had a huge impact on people’s health.

“The longer people are homeless, the more their health deteriorates,” he said.

Addressing a parliamentary hearing, House the Homeless WA said the housing crisis had worsened dramatically in recent years with Aboriginal families being affected at “grossly disproportionate” rates.

“That is a staggeringly high rate of Aboriginal people making up that tragic death toll,” Mr Noakes said.

“I have personally represented dozens of First Nations families in court trying to overturn evictions.

“Unfortunately, all too often that is impossible as the WA government continues to evict Aboriginal families without fault or cause, evictions for which there is no defense in court.

“I have seen the impacts of WA housing policy on our state’s most vulnerable families, many of whom are First Nations.”

The WA Government has been contacted for comment.

Noakes said that once someone had been evicted from public housing, it was nearly impossible for them to find housing.

“There is not enough public housing available for homeless people who need housing in WA,” he said.

“The number of public housing places has deteriorated and the waiting list has increased dramatically.”

Noakes said the situation was exacerbated by a “punitive” approach by the housing department, which included excluding people who did not respond to letters because they did not have a fixed address.

“It is not suitable to support Aboriginal families,” he said.

“Many of the policies effectively block Aboriginal people from housing.”

Noakes said some policies served as “life bans” on public housing, while others kept Aboriginal families in limbo.

“There is almost no recourse for families in this state to access the housing they need, other than to put up a tent and call the cameras,” he said.

Mrs. Quartermain has emphysema. She’s been couch-surfing between her children’s houses ever since her brother died of cancer.

“I’m not well,” Mrs. Quartermain said.

“I don’t need to live like this.”