Plans to build desperately needed social housing in an overcrowded East Kimberley town are taking shape with Housing Minister John Carey indicating he is keen to work with the Shire of Halls Creek on the project. The Shire of Halls Creek is developing a business case to build up to 40 homes for 280 people at several potential sites in and outside the town. Members of the community are currently being consulted about what they want the new housing to look like. Paul Rosair, principal at NAJA Business Consulting Services said the Shire has had several meetings with Mr Carey about the estimated $26 million project. “The minister’s made it clear that there’s money available under his ministerial portfolio for social housing. And he’s also made it clear that there’s a headworks fund that, if we tick all the boxes, we may be able to get money for. That is for power, water and telecommunications infrastructure.” “We’re also meeting with Housing Australia to see if there’s Federal funding that we can access too.” The Shire of Halls Creek has set aside $4 million for the project, however, they will need State and Federal money to make it a reality. The town of Halls Creek is bursting at the seams. A survey by the Shire during the COVID -19 pandemic revealed 82 per cent of houses were overcrowded. The 2023 Kimberley Residential Housing and Land Snapshot identifies there are 152 applications on the public housing waitlist in Halls Creek with 295 people waiting to be housed. There are 40 applications on the priority waitlist with 94 people unable to get the housing that they desperately need. “Housing is a social determinant of health, and the lack of homes is impacting on people’s health and wellbeing and a huge contributor to social and economic disadvantage in Halls Creek,” Mr Rosair said. He said there was, “no doubt, housing is the number one issue across the whole of the Kimberley”. The sites being considered for the social housing development include Blueberry Hill, land near Halls Creek Airport as well as a plot near Garden View. There is also a potential site in town. However, Mr Rosair said: “The first step was to listen to the local community.” Architect Steve Markham from Scribe Design Group, who has extensive experience building culturally appropriate houses and community buildings for Aboriginal communities, is visiting Halls Creek to consult with locals. Local NAJA associate Michelle Mackenzie is co-ordinating the consultations with assistance from local Aboriginal people. At the time of printing initial consultation was expected to take place during the week commencing on Monday, November 20. The business case for the social housing development is expected to be completed by April, however it will likely be some time before the first sod is turned and that will depend on government funding. “I suppose the beauty of it is the timing’s pretty good because there is significant new State and Federal funding for social housing and 2025 is an election year for both the State and Commonwealth governments,” Mr Rosair said.