Government needs to address the housing crisis
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A REPORT released last week showed that more Australians are being pushed to the brink of poverty and homelessness, with rising rents and a lack of social housing to blame.

According to the latest Productivity Commission report on governments services, 45.7 per cent of people receiving Commonwealth rent assistance are spending more than 30 per cent of their income on housing. This, the report states, is what defines housing stress.

Living in poverty can sometimes be difficult to imagine, especially in a place like the Gold Coast, which has a reputation for flashy cars and flashier mansions to go with an idealistic lifestyle.

Yet while the number of wealthy homeowners on the Coast has risen over the years, they do still represent only a small percentage of the region’s population.

Kate Colvin, national spokesperson for Everybody’s Home, says rental market resembles a great white shark. Photo: AAP

For everyone else, who aren’t already homeowners, times are tough.

Renters are possibly the worst affected by what can only now be deemed a housing crisis.

The REIQ this week reported that vacancy rates across the Coast were sitting at a tight 0.6 per cent, a figure it rates as “unhealthy”.

It has been that way since Covid began, with time only serving to squeeze it further.

I have heard countless stories over the past 18 months of people struggling to find somewhere to live, or who have had their rents spike by not tens but hundreds of dollars a month.

For example, a couple living in an apartment in Mermaid Beach had their rent rise overnight from $480 a week to $620. This is a significant amount to suddenly have to find from your monthly household pay packet.

As Kate Colvin, national spokesperson for Everybody’s Home, so vividly put it: “The Australian rental market now resembles a great white shark, swallowing family incomes almost whole.

“The supply of affordable homes is rapidly vanishing for people on low and modest incomes as rents skyrocket,” she said.

Renters are feeling the greatest pinch.

“Covid has completely warped our housing market. The benefits are being funnelled to those who already own housing while people in the rental market are forced into a brutal contest for survival.

“When politicians talk about a supply problem they need to get their priorities straight. We need more social and affordable housing to give people on modest incomes choice.”

There’s certainly no golden bullet for this situation but there are things that can be done that to alleviate things, starting with development.

Last week it was reported that the Jewel, the Gold Coast’s glittering tower trio in Surfers Paradise, is basically empty with more than 200 apartments going begging.

The owner of the development said he was “not in a hurry” to sell the apartments, happy to let them sit unoccupied.

This seems preposterous given the current housing situation.

Local councils need to assume more responsibility in preventing situations like this occurring.

They could start by giving priority to those developers who agree to include a percentage of affordable housing into their high and medium-density projects.

Not only would this help to balance out the mix of people living in a community and avoid slum areas from developing, it would certainly go some way to relieving the housing situation for all, including helping much maligned first-time buyers get a foot onto the property ladder.


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