Every step will be taken to prevent a woman having to give up her grandchildren after being turned down for a state housing priority list, West Australian Housing Minister Terry Redman says.
Diane Robinson - who was asked by the Department of Child Protection to look after her daughter's three children, Levi, 9, and twins Ella and Lachlan, 4 - faces having the kids taken into care after she was refused state housing.
She currently lives rent-free in a property owned by a family friend, but it has to be sold, leaving her without a home as of March 31, when her grandchildren may be removed from her custody.
Living on $650 a week from Centrelink, she cannot afford private rental, which on average, costs $400-$450 in Perth.
Mr Redman said the average wait on the state's priority housing list was 43 weeks, so even if she was added to the list, the problem would not be solved in time.
He said Ms Robinson should not get special treatment as there were many other people in dire situations who also deserved to be on the list.
"What I won't do is intervene and use my influence as a minister to put one over another," Mr Redman told ABC Radio on Friday.
He would not say if he would meet with Minister for Child Protection Robyn McSweeney to discuss Ms Robinson's circumstances but said it would be a "travesty" if Ms Robinson was forced to hand her grandchildren to the Department.
"You can be assured that the Liberal-National government will do everything it possibly can for that circumstance not to happen."
"I don't want hand-outs, I don't want to bludge off the government. I just want affordable housing so I can continue to provide the love and the care and the support that my grandchildren need to become functioning adults in our society," Ms Robinson said.
She is the face of many West Australians who the Department of Housing has failed, amid rising cost of living pressures and a "massive" housing crisis, according to the state opposition.
"This is a failure of government and administration," Labor leader Mr McGowan said.
"I can't imagine a higher priority situation, than a grandparent who has taken on responsibility for her grandchildren - to look after them, make sure they are clothed, fed and schooled.
“This should be a priority for the government."
Mr Redman said on Thursday there was an extremely high demand for public housing in WA.
"There are many people on the priority waiting list also facing difficult circumstances who have waited an extended period of time," Mr Redman said.
"Ms Robinson was assessed by the department to be ineligible for priority listing because it was considered she had other viable housing options. Priority assistance is provided to applicants who have demonstrated an urgent housing need and do not have any other options but public housing.
"To allow applicants who have other viable housing options to be placed on the priority waiting list would be unfair to those already on the list."
After being refused placement, despite recommendations from both the Department of Child Protection and Department of Health, Ms Robinson said she had appealed the decision.
Two years ago, Ms Robinson quit her $80,000-a-year job and moved to Perth from Karratha after she was asked by the Department for Child Protection to become the sole custodian of her daughter's three children.
Mr McGowan says it brought into focus a wider housing issue.
"We now have the highest Homeswest wait list in our state's history."
Mr Redman said that factors influencing wait periods include the area in which housing is being sought, turnover of properties in the region, the type of accommodation and number of bedrooms required, and the number of people ahead of the applicant on the wait list.
"At 31 December, 2012, the average waiting time for social housing across the State was 132 weeks and 63 weeks for priority listed applicants," Mr Redman said.