Homeless Gympie family of 7 forced to live in shed
A CURRA family of seven have been forced to downsize into a 12m by 8m garage shed as the Gympie region faces a public housing shortage.
Robert and his wife Sharon Warner along with their five children William, 15, Mackenzie, 13, Meah, 11, Millie, 9 and Jaxson 8 are living in a garage shed on his sister's Paperback Place property in Curra.
The family were renting a three bedroom house in Curra for the past year, but due to circumstances out of their control, were forced to vacate.
Mr Warner said they were given two months notice and thought it was "heaps of time" to find another place but after applying for more than 40 properties and receiving dozens of rejection letters, had no other choice but to take up his brother in laws offer to stay with them.
"There is up to nine vacant public houses in the Gympie region," Mr Warner said.
"We were told that one of the places that is vacant is a three bedroom unit and it's been vacant for two-and-a-half-years," he said.
"There is another two four bedroom and a five bedroom house that has been vacant since January and that was before I needed one.
"You could get a few families into some of these houses and if you can't, what's the problem? If it just needs some maintenance done, get a plumber, carpenter or builder in. To get a family off the streets or in their cars or a shed or something, why not?"
The Warner family have two autistic daughters who require Sharon's full-time care and with the impending heat this Summer, they are concerned for their children's safety.
"It's going to be unliveable in here during summer. We're trying to make it tolerable for now," she said.
Gympie MP Tony Perrett said it was clear the government was failing families waiting for public housing.
"If people satisfy the eligibility criteria and are not able to be accommodated then the department is clearly falling short," Mr Perrett said.
"This case is not isolated."
"My office made representations on behalf of another family of five children which is still waiting after applying in January last year. My office frequently receive requests for housing, of families that are desperate, which we take to the department.
"Some residents have reported that when they've told the department they will be homeless they have been told to 'buy a tent'.
Mr Perrett asked for action in a question on notice, and said when the LNP left government in 2015, the total number of applications had dropped by 7004 to 16,546.
"It has now sky-rocketed to 19,946 or almost 20,000 by the end of March this year," he said.
"There were 8,625 very high need applications, 6,076 high need, 4,622 moderate, and 623 lower need applications."
"The statistics are speaking loud and clear. Failing to provide public housing for our needy is not good enough. The Minister should act now to fix this problem so this family, and others, have a roof over their heads."