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'These aren't poor people': principal's angst as families succumb to housing crisis

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The head of a Caloundra school says he is seeing more families significantly impacted by increasing rental prices.

Dr Michael Stewart, the principal of Our Lady of the Rosary Primary School, joined property expert Mal Cayley on the latest episode of the Homes for Everyone podcast, which highlights the impacts of the housing crisis.

Dr Stewart said a dozen families had left the school and been forced to scramble for shelter, due to a lack of affordable rental properties.

“Out of those 12 families, quite a few are living in cars,” he said in a media release.

“It’s sad that we’re an extremely wealthy nation but we can’t supply the basic human right of having a house over everyone’s heads.”

Among the families was a doctor.

“These aren’t poor people,” Dr Stewart said.

“Sometimes there is a stereotype around homelessness, but these are people that do have jobs, they just can’t afford the rents through no fault of their own.

“There are just little to no affordable rental properties.”

Mal Cayley and Dr Michael Stewart during the podcast episode.

He shared his concerns for the families’ social, emotional and mental health, noting it’s “an expensive time for families with school kids”.

“At this time of the year, so many families have extra things to pay for, so on top of struggling to pay for or find a rental, it’s time to get new shoes and books – and if they have older kids, laptops,” Dr Stewart said.

“Housing is such an expensive part of a wage and with the rents being extremely high, parents can’t afford to put their kids in sports or will struggle to feed them at times.”

As a volunteer for St Vincent de Paul Society on top of his role as school principal, Dr Stewart shared his concern for the growing need of these services.

“I know Vinnies assisted at least 3500 people with emergency accommodation, including caravan parks, hostels and emergency housing … it is alarming that the need is growing,” he said.

Direct Collective COO and Homes for Everyone founder Mal Cayley said it was a horrendous situation and called for the government to do more to help.

“This is an emergency and a crisis,” he said.

“We need the government to … act quickly and spend the resources. More has got to be done.”

It’s hard to people to find an affordable rental. Picture: Shutterstock.

“We need 5500 rental properties today on the Sunshine Coast just to solve the rental crisis, and another 2000 dwellings for the owner-occupiers.

“So, somewhere between 7500 and 9000 is the number of dwellings we need to catch up with the undersupply here alone.”

Mr Cayley said Homes for Everyone was about listing the causes, providing solutions and bringing everyone together as one voice for the community to demand action at every level of government.”

The Homes for Everyone initiative called on people to put their digital hand up in support by filling in the form at Homes for Everyone.

Listen to the podcast on Spotify, iHeartRadio or visit Homes For Everyone.

Do you have an opinion to share? Submit a Letter to the Editor with your name and suburb at Sunshine Coast News via: news@sunshinecoastnews.com.au

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