A multimillion dollar cash injection to help struggling tenants stay in their homes, along with an audit of government-owned land will be among the Queensland Government’s response to the recent Housing Summit.
Held in October, the summit brought together all three levels of government along with the construction and real estate industries, planners, developers, community services, homelessness advocates and community housing providers.
The Outcomes Report from the summit was released today with a promise from Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk for action.
“The Outcomes Report I am releasing today sets out a program of actions backed by $56 million in new funding to deliver positive housing outcomes for the Queensland community,” she said.
“I didn’t convene the Housing Summit to just talk about housing. I convened the summit so that the government could work with stakeholders to find sustainable, tangible, workable solutions to the challenges Queenslanders face.”
The report focuses on expanding housing supply and increasing support for Queenslanders, including $11.7 million to help about 2500 tenants stay in their leases and avoid becoming homeless.
In addition to that, $10 million will go towards expanding private rental assistance products and services for people experiencing severe rental stress to prevent them losing their leases.
The same amount will also be spent on delivering more temporary, emergency accommodation with onsite support, while $8.5 million in extra funding will go towards after-hours homelessness outreach services.
There will also be a $5 million boost to the Immediate Housing Response package, $5 million for a Community Engagement and Awareness Campaign on growth and housing diversity and $3.3 million for cost of living relief, including emergency relief and food relief.
In addition to that, $2.5 million will support the review of the South-East Queensland Regional Plan.
The $56 million investment is on top of the $1 billion boost in funding for the Housing Investment Fund announced at the summit and the $5 million boost for the Immediate Response package announced following the Housing Roundtable in September this year.
Ms Palaszczuk said an audit of State Government-owned land and buildings was underway in an effort to identify properties that could be transformed into public housing.
The audit is expected to be completed in three months.
“And the government is working with community and faith-based organisations to similarly identify properties that can be used for vulnerable Queenslanders,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
”Another imminent step will be the opening of our Modular Homes Factory in Eagle Farm, where QBuild is using modern methods of construction to create prefabricated homes.
“We will continue to work with all levels of governments, industry, the private sector, our invaluable community housing providers and housing and homelessness community organisations to deliver this responsive and extensive program of work.
“There is more work to be done but we are taking important steps forward.”
The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) welcomed the immediate support to sustain tenancies, but said there was still a lot of work to be done to address housing supply.
REIQ Chief Executive Officer Antonia Mercorella said the immediate financial housing support, to be released prior to Christmas, would come as a welcome relief to the Queensland community.
“The $48.5 million towards housing support, including tenancy sustainment, loans and grants, will benefit the most vulnerable in our community by helping to keep a roof over their head and reducing cost-of-living pressures over Christmas,” Ms Mercorella said.
“Given we’re facing the tightest rental market in memory, we all hoped to see some immediate support come out of the summit to provide some reprieve, so this is certainly a welcome announcement.”
Ms Mercorella said the report laid bare the complexities of the housing issues Queensland faced.
“No stakeholders at the Housing Summit were under the illusion that there would be an overnight fix to the housing crisis, but there was a clear willingness and urgency in the room to see the rubber hit the road,” she said.
“This report indicates that clearly there are matters still being explored that are a work in progress and in some respects that speaks to the complexity of the housing crisis.
“While we had hoped to see some more firm commitments on the supply side of the equation at this stage, we look forward to seeing further detail emerge and the ‘areas for further work’ progressed with the same sense of urgency as the summit.”
She said the REIQ saw opportunity in the audit, educational campaign, and planning reforms, but was disappointed that some of the key ideas and recommendations at the summit had not made it into the report.
“The announcement of an audit to identify state-owned land and buildings for residential use is welcomed by the REIQ, and we trust that this audit will extend to local government and Non-Government Organisations in a meaningful way,” she said.
“At the summit, we all spoke to the importance of different levels of government and the private sector working together and this is a chance for the State Government to meaningfully lead this and put this collaborative approach into action.
“We appreciate that the Community Engagement and Awareness Campaign is a crucial step to ensure the community is on board with the change in housing diversity that needs to happen to support our growing community.
“The campaign goes hand-in-hand with the flagged planning reforms – a widely recognised key barrier to housing supply, and we will be keenly watching this space for more detail as it progresses.”
Ms Mercorella said a key theme raised at the summit was the built-to-rent model and it was deemed a sensible part of the housing solution.
“It’s surprising that there are no new commitments surrounding this in the report,” she said.
“The REIQ will also continue to advocate for initiatives that make downsizing a much easier financial decision for older Queenslanders, to significantly free up much-needed housing stock, and our view is more can be done at all levels to achieve this, and is a missed opportunity in this report.”
The Housing Roundtable will reconvene in March 2023.