Queensland Housing Summit too little, too late

The Queensland Housing Summit was an admission of failure and did nothing to address the real problems in housing affordability in Queensland, according to Graham Young, Executive Director of the Australian Institute for Progress.

“Housing affordability issues have been obvious for years, yet the government has ignored them, has no idea what to do about them, and now puts it on the industry to fix a problem which governments have in large part created.

“And what proposed solutions came out of the summit are piecemeal and won’t meet the urgent present need in the rental market.”

Mr Young said that the discussion appears to have ignored the elephant in the room.

“With the Federal Government promising to increase the immigration intake to 195,000 per annum, the crisis we are facing at the moment will be overwhelmed by the tsunami that is to follow.

“Calling for a temporary halt to widescale immigration should have been top of the list of recommendations from the summit.”

Mr Young said the urgent need for rental accommodation should be tackled by looking at increasing the flexibility of the current stock of housing.

“Plans to make it easier to rezone land for emergency housing are all well and good, but the process will still take months to occur, particularly with the Christmas break looming, and then there is the question of construction times.”

Mr Young said there was also a question mark over why the accelerated zoning process was only available to councils and charitable institutions.

“Roofs keep the rain off heads just as effectively irrespective of type of ownership or whether the provider pays tax or not.”

Mr Young said there is excess capacity in the existing pool of housing that can be used to deal with the rental crisis.

“The Census showed that around 1,000,000 homes were vacant across Australia. There are many good reasons for a vacant home, but If even a small percentage of these could be temporarily made available to people in dire need of housing, it would make a huge difference.

“As well, many houses have far more bedrooms than residents, and these bedrooms could also be used on an emergency basis to house individuals, and even families. Then there are the traditional Queenslander dwellings with space underneath that could be used to deal with an emergency.”

“The long-term solution to the affordability crisis is to build more housing, which requires a better approach to the development process from state and local governments. A quick fix is needed in the short-term to bridge the lack of action and accumulated mistakes of the last few decades.”

Mr Young said that the institute believes that if Queenslanders were asked to assess their current housing assets to see what they could offer on an emergency basis the problem of financially sound residents being forced to live out of cars, or sleep out, would be solved almost immediately.

“If you show Queenslanders there is a problem, and give them a way to help, they have shown time and again they will rise to the challenge.

“All that would be required in this case is some sort of a brokerage system to match up the needy with homeowners. This could easily be arranged via websites who already offer real estate sales and rental services.”