A mother whose 10-month-old died while she battled to secure housing said she did everything possible to save her baby boy.
Kenneth died in July while he and his mother, 32-year-old Crystal, were struggling to find a home through Western Australia’s social housing program.
Crystal was staying with relatives in Mullewa, a tiny town 450km north of Perth, when she found her baby lifeless in his bed.
“I did everything I could possibly do as a mum,” she told the ABC.
“The only thing I felt guilty about was not being able to provide his own home.”
WA Police are not treating the death as suspicious.
In a bitter twist, Crystal was offered a home just last week, according to the ABC.
She had been on the priority waitlist for housing since she found out she was pregnant in June last year.
A homeless advocate who worked with Crystal confirmed another baby had died in similar circumstances shortly after Kenneth.
“It’s by no means a one-off,” Betsy Buchanan told the ABC, describing babies dying during the wait for housing as a “common” problem.
The heartbreaking trend looks set to continue against a backdrop of a nationwide housing crisis, as more and more Australians wait for homes.
Almost 200,000 people are on social housing waitlists around the country, and that figure is increasing every year, according to data from state government websites.
Australians desperate for a home can expect to wait on average more than two years, with wait times for more in-demand areas in excess of five and even 10 years.
The worrying news comes as the federal government’s $10bn housing Bill is tied up in the debating chambers of Canberra.
The Housing Australia Future Fund would aim to deliver 30,000 new social and affordable housing in five years, the government claims.
The Bill has been blocked by the Greens and Coalition so far this year, with another round of voting set to take place in October.
“Vulnerable Australians need the thousands of homes that the Housing Australia Future Fund will deliver,” Housing Minister Julie Collins told parliament in August.