Rental shortage leaves south-west Qld residents with few options
Residents across the Darling Downs are struggling to find affordable housing during the current rental shortage, with Vinnies Queensland’s crisis accommodation options being packed throughout the region.
Vinnies Toowoomba Homeless Hostel Coordinator Flora Nussey said affordable housing options were extremely scarce in the region and the impacts of COVID-19 and migration from residents in NSW and Victoria had only made the situation worse.
“The support we provide for men and families in Toowoomba is supposed to be just for short-term crisis accommodation,” Flora said.
“But we’ve had families housed in our crisis accommodation for more than 12 months – they can’t leave because there is simply nowhere to go that is affordable.”
Toowoomba recorded a rental vacancy rate of just 0.6% last month, its’ lowest in over a decade.
More than 86,000 residents are expected to migrate to Queensland from Victoria and New South Wales over the next few years.
“This issue is also felt by the Vinnies homelessness support services which are finding an increase in requests for help,” Flora said.
Jackie Doyle, who works with Vinnies Queensland’s Cornerstone program for people at risk of homelessness in Warwick, said the situation was putting a whole new group of people in crisis.
“We’ve seen an increase of enquiries from people with a good rental history, have never needed to ask for support before, but they just cannot keep up in this competitive market,” she said.
Angelia Peak, a Cornerstone worker in Roma, said she was having the same problems in rural western Queensland and was struggling to help secure long-term affordable housing for people who needed it.
Vinnies Queensland CEO Kevin Mercer said this shortage was being felt by residents throughout the state and highlighted the long-standing need for more social and affordable housing options.
“Queenslanders will keep facing the extreme stress and anxiety that comes with a lack of affordable housing unless this issue is adequately addressed in the next State Budget,” Kevin said.
“In the meantime, Vinnies Queensland will continue to do whatever we can to support individuals and families who find themselves with little options left.
“We will also be launching our CEO Sleepout event and homelessness campaign in June to help bring attention to this issue and to raise funds from the community to break the cycles of homelessness that is being exacerbated by the shortage of housing stock available.”
Vinnies Queensland is the largest homelessness service provider in Queensland and provided 95,900 nights of accommodation for vulnerable residents in the last financial year.