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Spike in region's residents on social housing waitlist has politicians at loggerheads

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New data showing a spike in Sunshine Coast residents on the social housing waitlist has politicians at loggerheads over the state government’s Housing Investment Fund.

The new breakdown of the social housing waitlist has revealed the number of the region’s residents on the list has grown by 30 per cent since 2017.

The data has resulted in the Opposition slamming the government’s use of the Housing Investment Fund for the region.

This prompted Housing Minister Meaghan Scanlon to outline how the government is bolstering housing on the Sunshine Coast.

Shadow Minister for Housing Tim Mander said more than 2800 residents on the Sunshine Coast had been left on the social housing waitlist, without a roof over their head.

“Since the Palaszczuk Government was first elected, the number of residents across the Sunshine Coast on the social housing waitlist has grown from 2162 people to 2807,” he said.

Source: Queensland Government’s social housing register open data portal.

“Queenslanders have been waiting for two years and they’re still waiting for the Labor Government to finally provide a roof over their head through the Housing Investment Fund,” he said.

“Not a single home has been planned, approved or built by this $2 billion fund on the Sunshine Coast or anywhere in regional Queensland. Queenslanders deserve better.”

Tim Mander.

But Ms Scanlon said the state government had committed a record $5 billion towards social and affordable homes – the largest investment in Queensland’s history.

“We’ve continued to deliver housing on the Sunshine Coast since 2015, with more than 3600 social homes now on the Coast, after the LNP failed to deliver a single new home in their last year of government,” she said.

Related story: Social and affordable housing support on the way

“Just last week, we announced a partnership with Coast2Bay to purchase 121 homes coming off the National Rental Affordability Scheme program for social housing through the Housing Investment Fund.”

Through the HIF, she said another 71 projects had been shortlisted, 60 per cent of which were outside Brisbane, including on the Sunshine Coast.

Housing Minister Meaghan Scanlon (third from left) with Coast2Bay’s Gordon Sutherland, Jess Knot and Andrew Elvin at a complex under construction at Yandina.

“While we build new social homes we’re also providing more immediate supports as well with more than 11,200 nights of short-term accommodation for families in need through our Immediate Housing Response for Families package on the Coast, as well as more than $7 million for 12 specialist homelessness services in the region,” she said.

“What’s clear is all levels of government need to pull every lever to help tackle the impact national housing pressures are having in Queensland.”

She said the government had launched the draft South East Queensland Regional Plan, which outlines to councils a framework to rollout almost 900,000 new homes by 2046.

“That includes an additional 80,600 dwellings on the Sunshine Coast,” she said.

“Importantly, it also sets out a target for affordable and social housing to be provided into the future.

Related story: Social housing complex opens doors

She said another 137 social homes were also in the pipeline for the Sunshine Coast through the government’s QuickStarts program.

“I’m keen to continue to work with councils to help tackle these housing pressures,” she said.

Nambour Community Centre manager Ana Greenfield weighed in, saying many of the people accessing the centre’s services daily were on the social housing waitlist.

“It’s constant and it’s really bad. We need change and we need something to happen,” she said.

“Some of them just haven’t got it together to put their names down, because it can be new for them. It might have been that they can’t get a rental or something’s happening with their rental and they can’t maintain it and then they’re on the street.

“So then that takes time for them to gather themselves and work it all out, because it is a bit of a process.”

Nambour Community Centre’s Ana Greenfield.

She said the crisis required services working together to provide more innovative grassroots responses and solutions.

“Then I think whoever is in government needs to be able to respond to those innovative solutions,” she said.

“Sometimes it can be a relatively small amount of money that gets us a long way, but the government needs to be able to pivot around that – and if they can’t, then ideas get caught up in bureaucratic red tape and then it’s hard to move.

“If seed funding was available for projects, then that can be really helpful.”

Since 2019, she said there had been a marked difference in the number of homeless people who were accessing the centre’s dignity services, such as a shower and some food.

“The cost of living runs alongside it,” she said.

“More people are probably seeking out emergency food relief and just needing support. Money is tight and it’s hard for people to make ends meet.

“We need to look at it (the housing crisis) in different ways, and different communities would have their own responses. There’s not enough on the ground action, fast enough.

“Housing is expensive to build, but how do we do it differently, and how do we hold it well?”

Anyone who needs housing assistance can contact their local Housing Service Centre during business hours or call the 24/7 Homeless Hotline on 1800 474 753.

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

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