Construction in the Pilbara is set to get a big boost with the State Government announcing a stimulus package worth nearly $500 million to revive the industry. The investment is part of the McGowan Government’s $444m Social Housing Economic Recovery package. It would see 1500 public and community houses refurbished, a rolling maintenance program targeting 3800 regional dwellings, and the delivery of about 250 new homes to help meet Western Australia’s social housing needs. The stimulus package would see about 130 public and community houses refurbished in the Pilbara, while 2500 dwellings in the region would be included in the regional maintenance program. Housing Minister Peter Tinley said there was a two-speed economy in the Pilbara with people working on high wages in the resource sector, while others were employed in areas such as retail that did not attract those wages. Mr Tinley said the system had to be able to cater for people on very different income levels and public housing needed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. He said the refurbishment of houses would take time because of the scope of the works but would create immediate jobs for the Pilbara. “There will be a number of new builds here as well for the public system, also coupled with a $20,000 grant from the State for anybody that wants to build a house and also a continuation of stamp duty relief for those buying off the plan apartments where it is applicable,” he said. “The private sector now needs to be engaged to meet those groups that need affordable housing in a way they haven’t done previously.” Member for Pilbara Kevin Michel said housing affordability was a significant issue. “This $20,000 grant that is coming for anyone that wants to build a house is a fantastic idea, and the housing contract for the maintenance of nearly 1500 houses in the Pilbara that will be rectified, repaired and put on the market, which will (mean) more social housing coming on board,” he said. “It has been a major issue for a long time, and will always be an issue, but that is why we have given this grant, and we are trying to work with Bankwest to see how we can get them to lend money.” Karratha and Districts Chamber of Commerce chief executive Tanya Dodd said the cost of living in the Pilbara was a hurdle for many residents. “Not everyone can afford that deposit that banks require for a loan, just because we live in the postcode of 6714, life is so much harder with the banks,” she said.