Two hundred beds of unused student housing on a university campus in Queensland will be turned into crisis shelters as stakeholders and the government look for ways to address the state’s housing crisis, which leaves people in serious financial trouble.
Most important points:
- Today’s roundtable on housing will be followed by a summit on October 20 to try to address multiple housing issues
- Queensland’s housing crisis is exacerbated by massive inter-state migration, building supply constraints and flooding
- About 220,000 people are expected to move to Queensland in the next five years
Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk hosted today’s roundtables – ahead of a housing summit on Oct. 20 – and thanked Griffith University for approaching its government after identifying vacant student housing on the Mount Gravatt campus.
“We will now be working with them over the next six months to make these rooms available to people and service providers,” she said.
“We are now asking Queensland residents, businesses, organizations, church groups – if you have property or land that can help us, we will work with you.”
Ms Palaszczuk said the Catholic Church had also identified 90 blocks of land in the state and would work with the government “with a view to placing some accommodation on those blocks of land”.
She said she acknowledged these were very complex issues, but said there were “excellent talks today”.
“Looking at those unused buildings, also looking at land delivery, we also had discussions about prefabricated houses that could become readily available — I’ll be looking at it in the coming weeks,” she said.
“The other thing we recognize is that families and people want to live in their communities.
“Another great idea that was floated today that we will be exploring more is in the UK, 25 per cent of housing should be affordable or social housing from a new development – that’s a great idea so we want to take that further investigate too.”
Housing crisis ‘is ridiculous and crazy’
But retiree George Parkyn, 66, said the housing freeze was a “waste of time and money”.
“It makes me very sad – I sometimes think what is in life. I feel totally abandoned,” he said.
“We need help now. It gets worse every day. Nothing is resolved quickly.’
Mr. Parkyn had to borrow from friends to help pay the $88-a-week rent increase for his modest Gladstone home in April.
He was then forced to move to a cheaper, smaller place five doors down on the same estate for $194 a week, but that too is about to increase by another $26.
The one-time tourism manager, who had mental health issues, said he only had $5 most weeks after paying rent, his bills and buying food.
Mr Parkyn lives in one of over 8,000 Queensland properties offered through the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS).
The federal scheme will provide 22,000 homes across the country but will end in November 2024, forcing tenants into the open market.
“This situation is ridiculous and insane. How do you think it makes us feel? We’re going to take to the streets,” Mr Parkyn said.
He has written more than 40 politicians about the housing crisis and invited them to put themselves in his shoes.
“Only one called me,” he said.
“It’s sad and disheartening that in six months they can build a COVID village but not solve the housing problem.”
He said his Beagle rescue dog Baxter kept him going, but said he still had “black days” when the bills piled up and he couldn’t pay them.
“What are you doing?” said Mr Parkyn.
Construction pipeline 2023 already at capacity
Deputy Prime Minister Steven Miles said that although the renovation of the student housing in the south of Brisbane would take several months, it was still faster than building a new building and would ease the pressure sooner.
Treasurer Cameron Dick said the current construction pipeline was full and the Housing Industry Association (HIA) told the meeting they had 12 months on the books, through 2023.
Mr Dick said other issues raised included a proposal to tax vacant properties to encourage their use as homes, as well as a suggestion by the Brisbane Mayor for a state-wide tax on Airbnbs.
When asked whether he supported the idea of taxing vacant properties, Mr. Dick did not answer. He said he was just passing on some of the suggested suggestions.
Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner, Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) CEO Aimee McVeigh and Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) CEO Antonia Mercorella were among those in attendance at today’s meeting.
On Tuesday, Ms Palaszczuk announced that the state government would hold a first meeting — followed by a summit — to try to address multiple housing issues exacerbated by massive interstate migration, construction restrictions and flooding.
It followed growing demand from the housing and social services sector for the government to convene a summit as about 220,000 people are expected to move to the state over the next five years.