Governments are failing to address Central Queensland’s housing crisis, despite more than 1,000 Rockhampton residents seeking support for homelessness in a year.
Today, QCOSS will be in Rockhampton to meet with community services from across the Central Queensland region to discuss the social issues most affecting residents.
Anglicare Central Queensland (AnglicareCQ) says the housing shortage is being exacerbated by a lack of government programs designed specifically for Central Queensland, a need for more council support, and the winding down of the National Rental Assistance Scheme (NRAS).
CatholicCare Central Queensland Director Robert Sims said social and affordable housing, and domestic violence and relationship breakdowns, were two of the most significant issues Rockhampton residents faced.
“The housing market has been getting worse for about a year-and-a-half to two years, but at the moment, it is the worst that I have ever seen. Homelessness continues to be a problem in terms of finding housing for people, particularly affordable and suitable housing,” he said.
Social housing waitlist numbers have more than doubled over four years in Rockhampton from 438 residents in 2017, to 944 residents in 2021. All up, 1,232 people are waiting for a safe and secure home in the Livingstone, Banana, Woorabinda and Rockhampton shires.
AnglicareCQ CEO Carol Godwin said the Queensland Government had recently opened seven social homes in Rockhampton, which was “a good start”.
“But we have nothing else solid coming through,” she said. “Big complexes that are suitable in Brisbane, where you can have more than 100-plus tenancies, are not a design that works in regional and remote communities. They are not feasible. We need a regional solution.”
The Queensland Government has announced that 113 homes will be delivered in the region over four years under its QuickStart Queensland program, but AnglicareCQ Homelessness & Housing Manager, Adam Klaproth, said he wasn’t aware of any organisation that had been granted a tender under the program in the area.
He said one of AnglicareCQ’s biggest concerns was the hundreds of pensioners and low-income earners facing homelessness because of the NRAS ending.
“They are very stressed,” Mr Klaproth said of the NRAS renters and their families. “I can only see one answer for where they’ll go – and that is on the social housing list.”
Ms Godwin said local councils also had an important role to play in solving the social and affordable housing crisis. She said northern Queensland councils had provided free and discounted land for social housing, and rate relief, but this was rare in Central Queensland, where different levels of government often pointed the finger of housing blame at each other.
“No one is taking ownership and responsibility – everyone knows there is a significant issue and nothing has come to play. We need all levels of government to help,” Ms Godwin said. “It has been years and years of saying the same things and it is getting worse.”
QCOSS CEO Aimee McVeigh said the recent Queensland Audit Office report had warned the Queensland Government’s planned number of new social housing was not enough.
“It is clear that current and future housing need is not well understood and that a significant increase to investment is required,” Ms McVeigh said.
“We call on all levels of government to help Central Queensland residents, and to work with community organisations to fix this crisis.”