Warwick’s ‘invisible’ housing crisis revealed
ALMOST 25,000 Queenslanders are on the state's public housing waiting list, as local member reveals the crisis is growing on the Southern Downs.
Member for Southern Downs James Lister, who met with shadow minister for housing Michael Hart on Monday, said residents were finding it increasingly difficult to find housing in the region.
"I've heard from local real estate that it's getting harder and harder secure to public housing, and that those people are being pushed to the private housing sector, which is becoming less stable because of the government's reforms to tenancy agreements," he said.
Mr Lister said tenancy reforms had killed the market by making it less incentivising for landlords to rent out property.
"These pressures together mean that there is a housing problem in this neck of the woods and it's invisible because people couch surf, they live with friends, they live in caravans, and tents and all sorts of things but it's a big social problem people are reluctant to broadcast," he said.
Mr Hart said Mr Lister's statement matched data which showed there wasn't enough housing available for Queenslanders currently.
While Labor doesn't currently hold a public housing waiting list, Mr Hart said the number had jumped by 6,500 since the Palaszczuk government came into power.
"Labor has lost control on public housing," he said.
"There are 75,000 public houses in Queensland, with 25,000 Queenslanders on the waiting list that means over 30 per cent can't get into emergency housing.
"It is a major concern, especially coming off COVID-19. Unless you are homeless or suffering domestic violence or something life threatening, you cannot get public housing in QLD anymore."
But charities across the Rose City tell a different story.
Housing support worker Jackie Doyle, who operates St Vincent's De Paul's Cornerstone program, said homelessness, especially that of secondary homelessness like couch-surfing, had always been a prevalent problem for the region.
"There's always an issue with homelessness in the Southern Downs," she said.
"There probably may be a little increase, but there is always a need, and usually a reasonably high one."
Ms Doyle said residents didn't having to be 'living rough' to suffer mentally and financially from insecure housing.
"Everybody wants a secure home," she said.
"When you're living with family and friends, no matter how well you get on, it puts a strain on families, especially when there could be two to three generations in one household as well.
"It can easily cause mental health breakdowns, anxiety and depression."
Meanwhile organisers like the Salvation Army's core officer captain Richard Hardaker said assistance programs such as JobKeeper had curbed aid outreach.
"We haven't received many applications for welfare in the last three months, but before coronavirus hit, we were seeing up to five a week," he said.
"Hopefully that means those programs are working in this area."
Similarly, Daphne Porter said the Lighthouse Community Centre had seen a "drop off".
Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said the State Government was continually implementing housing initiatives in light of coronavirus, including a Good Samaritan rental initiative with REIQ offering free or low-cost homes for people who need to escape violence, and $100 million for housing construction to boost supply.
"With wage-growth stalling, JobKeeper payments coming to a close and the cost of living rising, more Queenslanders are seeking housing assistance," he said.
"It's the Palaszczuk government's safety net that is protecting vulnerable Queenslanders as we deliver our health response to COVID-19. We work with social housing applicants based on their level of need; anyone who approaches us fleeing domestic and family violence is provided safe accommodation immediately.
"The entire Queensland community has come together at this unprecedented time; the Palaszczuk government, housing providers and the real estate industry are all working together to assist our most vulnerable Queenslanders."