Kevin Mercer ceo St Vincent de Paul Qld. (AAP Image/Steve Pohlner)
Kevin Mercer ceo St Vincent de Paul Qld. (AAP Image/Steve Pohlner)

Vinnies slams State Govt failure to address social housing


The release of the Queensland Budget earlier this week inspired optimism for sectors including education and health, but there was a clear area of neglect in the mix — that being the State Government’s commitment to social housing.

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There is no doubt the $526.2 million funding allocation by the Palaszczuk Government towards keeping a roof over the heads of struggling families and individuals is a good start, but it falls monumentally short of the rapidly increasing demand for affordable accommodation across the state.

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By comparison, our Government’s commitment is less than 9% of the $6 billion Victoria is investing, despite Queensland having the highest rate of unemployment across the country.

As it stands, Queensland has a shortfall of 175,000 homes needed over the next 20 years to ensure every person has a safe and dignified place to sleep. It is people’s fundamental right to this sort of stability and security.

Kevin Mercer ceo St Vincent de Paul Qld. (AAP Image/Steve Pohlner)
Kevin Mercer ceo St Vincent de Paul Qld. (AAP Image/Steve Pohlner)

Even if all of the State Government’s funding is committed to the construction of social houses, this equates to only 1644 homes, falling nearly 80 per cent short of the 8750 homes needed each year for the next 20 years to meet growing demand.

Even before COVID-19 devastated the country and the economy, the state faced a significant homelessness problem — nine out of the 20 national homelessness hotspots are in Queensland. This has been exacerbated by a massive 84 per cent increase in applications for government housing support from May to July 2020.

What’s more alarming is that of those applicants on the housing waitlist, 38 per cent are families with children who will be considerably impacted as a result of limited investment. We know that vulnerable children are the worst affected in terms of mental health, emotional and behavioural stability, and adverse health and education outcomes.

By investing in the vital construction of social housing, we can create jobs in construction and the social services sector, effectively reducing the burden on welfare. After all, it costs the taxpayer less to house someone than to have them live on the streets.

As a community, there is no doubt we are in the grips of a social housing crisis, and in turn, a homelessness crisis unless meaningful and long-term investment is made in social and affordable housing.

We need a stronger response in this area, sooner rather than later.

Kevin Mercer

CEO, St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland