Wait times for social housing blow out to 28 months - triSearch

Wait times for social housing blow out to 28 months

By Savannah Meacham

Wait times to acquire social housing in Queensland have blown out to more than two years with more than half of the applicants already homeless, data shows.

More than half of Queenslanders who have applied for social housing are homeless and are waiting more than two years, amid a lack of supply and skyrocketing demand.

Latest data from the state’s social housing register shows there were 24,991 applications to December, with half of those people already homeless and average wait times blowing out to 28 months.

Nearly one-third of those applicants had children.

“We’re continuing to see an increasing number of families with young children who have nowhere to go,” Queensland Council of Social Services CEO Amy McVeigh told reporters on Monday.

“It’s incredibly concerning.”

Housing Minister Meaghan Scanlon said the figures were alarming but there had been a decrease in the number of applications year on year which showed the government’s social housing programs were helping.

“That’s really critical as we judge the number of applications because that’s the amount of homes that we need, but of course, we know that there’s still more to do,” she told reporters on Monday.

The state government is trying to tackle the growing housing issue with the Homes for Queenslanders plan: a $3.1 billion funding boost to deliver one million homes, including 53,500 social properties, by 2046.

The plan includes initiatives such as expanding the Immediate Relief for Families program to provide emergency accommodation to all individuals and families, banning rent bidding, limiting rent increases to annually instead of tenancy based and social service funding.

Premier Steven Miles and his cabinet have promised a home for every homeless Queenslander.

Ms McVeigh said that commitment was welcome but did not share whether it was a realistic target given the statistics.

“If we don’t make a commitment to a home for every Queenslander, what we’re in essence saying is that as a state, we’re comfortable with some families, some mothers and babies living in cars and tents,” she said.

She wants the policy promises to be implemented as quickly as possible.

There is also a call to explore more options for temporary housing such as the federally-owned Pinkenba 500-bed quarantine facility that was meant to be used during the height of COVID-19 but remained untouched.

“We need to make sure that the government is literally out there looking at every single possible option to get people out of tents and cars and put a roof over their head of families with children,” Ms McVeigh said.

Ms Scanlon said given Pinkenba is owned and operated by the federal government, it was the Commonwealth’s decision on whether the facility was repurposed.

Queensland faces a potential change of government when voters head to the polls in October.

With this possibility of the government’s schemes being thrown out if the LNP is elected has sparked Ms McVeigh to call for the opposition to reveal more details of its social housing strategies.

The LNP lists among its priorities, if elected, delivering social housing projects on time and on budget.

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