With sky-high rents and worryingly low vacancy rates, the State Government hopes the recently announced housing supply unit will boost home affordability in the Pilbara. The new unit, led by a team within the WA Treasury, was announced on Tuesday and will help ensure the State extracts the maximum benefit from the billions of dollars in Commonwealth housing initiative funding set to come over the next several years. In May, the North West Telegraph reported how the rental vacancy rates in the Pilbara were “punishingly low” at 1.1 per cent in Port Hedland and 0.9 per cent in Karratha. The Pilbara Development Commission’s biannual Housing and Land Snapshot also showed median rental price in the region was also worryingly high at $1200 in Port Hedland and $850 in Karratha. Given the extent of the housing crisis, Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel said the new unit would help boost house affordability in the region. “We’re seeking to pull every lever we possibly can to get more housing into the market,” he said. “The establishment of a dedicated Housing Supply Unit within the Department of Treasury will help drive new measures and streamline government policies to boost housing supply and affordability, particularly in the Pilbara region. “The new unit will be responsible for engaging directly with industry to identify specific barriers to increasing supply and will work with other agencies and Government Trading Enterprises to address those barriers. The new Treasury team will lead WA’s effort to secure a large slice of the funding available through the Albanese Government’s $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund. The HAFF is designed to create a reliable pipeline of future funding for social and affordable housing. In September, PDC regional development director Michael Heap said the cost of building and labour supply was potentially affecting people’s confidence in building a new home in the Pilbara. “It’s purely the ability to build at a price that the bank is going to value at and that you can lend against,” he said. “At the moment we are hearing numbers comfortably north of $1 million dollars to build, landscape, and get into your house. “The bank just isn’t going to value that so either you have a very large cash deposit or you can’t afford to do it right now .” The recent PDC snapshot also recently showed a total of eight land sales were made in the region over the past six months, with the average price also increasing 125 per cent to $281,300.