Queensland’s housing crisis is far worse than thought, with around 150,000 Queensland households experiencing unmet housing need, and homelessness and rents escalating at rates higher than any other state or territory, a landmark report warns.

A blueprint to tackle Queensland’s housing crisis places Queensland at the epicentre of the nation’s housing crisis.

Released just one week before Premier Palaszczuk’s second Housing Roundtable, QCOSS CEO Aimee McVeigh said the study was “a wake-up call” on the scale of the crisis.

The report, commissioned by The Town of Nowhere campaign and supported financially by Tenants Queensland and The Services Union, also steps out important strategies the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments can take to fix the crisis.

“Queensland’s recent homelessness increase is almost triple the national average rate,” McVeigh said. “And the fact that we have 150,000 households with unmet housing needs means about 300,000 Queenslanders are either homeless, or are on low incomes and are paying more than 30 per cent in rent. That is staggering. That’s 300,000 Queenslanders – a ‘Town of Nowhere’ with a population almost double the city of Cairns.”

The report, written by national housing expert Professor Hal Pawson and UNSW colleagues, is the first in Australia to lay out a comprehensive, evidence-backed reform package to tackle the housing crisis at a state level.

The blueprint commends the Palaszczuk Government’s recent actions in ramping up social and affordable housing investment from the minimal levels of the early to mid-2010s. But it also estimates that up to 2,700 new social homes need to be built every year just to maintain the status quo – about double the amount expected under currently pledged Queensland funding.

McVeigh said the recent reforms and extra funding announcements by the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments were welcomed in the report, but after decades of inaction, much more was required.

“The size of this crisis requires both the state and Commonwealth government to be much more ambitious and to do things differently,” McVeigh said. “The deep-rooted problems revealed by the report call for a long hard look at our under-performing housing system, and demand fundamental structural reforms to match. Equally, the report also usefully highlights a range of measures that could contribute to tackling the crisis at little or no cost to government.”

“These types of initiatives need to be part of a bold strategy that seeks to put a roof over the head of every Queenslander, and this report proves this vision can be made a reality. We also need to increase income support to $76 a day, to help people on low incomes survive this crisis.”

Professor Hal Pawson said a major increase in Commonwealth Rent Assistance would help many Queenslanders, and further tenancy law reform was also needed.

“But expanded social housing provision is also essential in tackling the problem,” Professor Pawson said. “We need to remember that the inherently insecure nature of private rental housing makes it unsuitable for vulnerable people or families – even if affordable.”

The report also found:

  • In the four years to 2021-22, homelessness rose by 22% in in Queensland, compared to only 8% nationally.
  • One in 10 households in Logan, Beaudesert and the Gold Coast are renters or people experiencing homelessness with unmet need for affordable housing.
  • Private rents in Queensland have grown at a faster rate than any other state or territory, with low-income and regional households hit the hardest.
  • Policy recommendations to fix the housing crisis include:
  • Reforming private landlord tax concessions
  • Phasing in broad-based land tax to replace stamp duty
  • Re-building housing policymaking capacity within government
  • Reforming rent assistance and strengthening rental property regulation
  • Expanding social and affordable rental housing
  • Further expanding the Queensland Housing Investment Fund (QHIF) and Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF)
  • Phasing in meaningful inclusionary zoning
  • Mandating inclusion of social/affordable housing for non-estate public land disposal
  • Strengthening regulation of short term rental (‘Airbnb’) housing
  • Expanding the roles of government, not-for-profits and build-to-rent developers
  • Planning reforms to enable more medium density development
  • Boosting community housing sector capacity, especially Indigenous CHOs, and;
  • Establishing annual publication of key social and affordable housing statistics.

Tenants Queensland CEO Penny Carr said rental reform was crucial to solving the crisis.

“Rental prices have soared to three times the rate of inflation and without a limit on rent increases, Queenslanders will continue to be put at risk of homelessness,” Ms Carr said.

The Services Union Executive President Jennifer Thomas said the report highlighted the importance of homelessness services during a housing crisis.

“We cannot allow critical services to be cut at a time of surge demand on homelessness assistance amid a housing crisis in Queensland,” Ms Thomas said.

“The National Housing and Homelessness Agreement must cover the wages mandated by the Fair Work Commission to sustain current levels of staffing.”

Read a summary of the report.

The Town of Nowhere campaign is working to end the housing crisis in Queensland. It is made up of 17 leading community organisations including: Anglicare Central Queensland, Anglicare North Queensland, CASSI, CatholicCare Social Services, CatholicCare Central Queensland, Common Ground, DV Connect, Footprints Community, Kyabra Community Association, Lifeline Darling Downs and South West Queensland, Meals on Wheels, Micah Projects, QCOSS, St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland, Wesley Mission Queensland, and YFS.

20 March 2023 |Focus area: