Scott, a man who was forced to live in his tent due to the housing crisis.
Scott, a man who was forced to live in his tent due to the housing crisis.

Lack of CQ social housing driving up rents in Gladdy, Rocky

A desperate lack of social housing across Central Queensland is putting pressure on housing markets resulting in escalating rental costs across the region.

Widespread calls for an increase in social housing construction came earlier this year when state and federal governments announced plans to stimulate the economy in a COVID recovery.

Rents on three bedroom houses in the Gladstone region have increased by 12.4 per cent over the past year, while two bedroom units have seen a 7.7 per cent rent increase, according to the Residential Tenancies Authority.

A principal factor in these rent rises, say the RTA is because Gladstone rental prices came from such a low rate, the cheapest in Queensland 12 to 18 months ago.

This week The Observer was told of a homeless man who was living in the toilet of a 24 hour laundromat in the region.

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The lowest vacancy rate in decades in the Rockhampton region of below 2 per cent has contributed to escalating rents in the beef capital, local real estate agents say.

The extremely low vacancy rate in both Gladstone and Rockhampton is predicted to have dire consequences, forcing a significant increase in homeless people across CQ.

In December it was predicted 55.2 per cent of Central Queenslander’s would face housing stress post COVID, the highest figure in the nation.

The report Double return: How investing in social housing can address the growing homelessness crisis and boost Australia’s economic recovery called on the government to spend $7.2 billion on social housing to boost the economy post COVID.

These calls were echoed by the organisation Everybody’s Home following the release of Thursday’s report COVID-19: Rental Housing and Homelessness Impacts – An Initial Analysis.

A national campaign to end homelessness, Everybody’s Home says despite measures rolled out to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic, including eviction moratoriums, temporary increases to income support payments and emergency accommodation programs, housing security is about to rapidly worsen for many Australians.

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Everybody’s Home spokeswoman Kate Colvin at the National Press Club in Canberra.
Everybody’s Home spokeswoman Kate Colvin at the National Press Club in Canberra.

“Temporary income and eviction protections are due to be phased out at a time when unemployment is set to peak at around 8 per cent, and without new measures homelessness and housing stress will rise,” Everybody’s Home spokeswoman Kate Colvin said.

“Renters were hit much harder by COVID than homeowners, particularly in locations where rents increased even as unemployment soared.

“This will only get worse, and especially so in regional Australia.

“Compared with the situation at the start of the pandemic the number of households suffering housing stress will increase anywhere from 5 per cent to 18 per cent depending on the severity of the recession.

“COVID exposed a social-housing system that is deeply strained and lacking a supply pipeline to meet demand.”

Ms Colvin said the government must start to take the evidence and these reports seriously as a crisis is quickly looming.

“We must heed the lessons of COVID-19 about the importance of home and the value of Government stimulus and start to build new social housing,” she said.

“We can start with building 30,000 social housing units, that will not only provide homes for those that need it most, but also help boost the economy.”

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