The housing crisis hit Queensland hard. Jolted into action, the state has raised its game

The housing crisis hit Queensland hard. Jolted into action, the state has raised its game

Post-COVID housing stress has been especially intense in Queensland.

Brisbane property prices have climbed by 65% since the pandemic began.

That’s almost double the Australian capital city average (34%).

According to new data released by CoreLogic this week, Brisbane now has the second-most expensive housing in the country, behind Sydney.

Prices rose by 1.4% in May, with the median property price hitting $843,231.

Across the state, new tenancy rents are up by 45% in just four years.

Adjusted for inflation, that’s a 23% increase in real terms, much more than the growth in incomes over that time.

Without a doubt, rising accommodation costs are inflicting financial pain on many in the Sunshine State.

Soaring rents have squeezed people on lower incomes particularly hard.

Our analysis shows the share of new lettings at rents low-income households can afford has slumped from 23% to 10% of all private tenancies since 2020.

And less than 1% of available Queensland rentals in March 2024 were affordable to a single person earning minimum wage or a pensioner couple.

These conditions push some people into homelessness.

With “tent cities” appearing across Brisbane, the crisis looks to be deepening.

Yet, as we report today, this situation has triggered a flurry of constructive housing policymaking.

Queensland has begun to reverse a long-term decline in its social housing stock.

The state has also boosted homelessness funding and services.

What led to this crisis?

The pandemic’s economic disruption and state population growth well above the national rate have made the housing situation worse.

Since COVID-19 hit in 2020, Queensland’s population has grown by 6.6%, compared with 4.7% for Australia as a whole.

However, historic policy inaction and complacency in housing are also to blame.

Both state and federal governments have been highly culpable.

Given their complexity, the fundamental flaws of our housing system cannot be quickly solved, even if there is the political will to do so.

Despite this, as argued in our new report for the Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS), we have recently seen something of a sea change in official policy responses to the state’s housing challenges.

The past two years, especially, have been a remarkably fertile time for housing policy (both state and federal).

Social housing is expanding at last

Nowhere is this shift more striking than in the area of social housing – public or community housing for the lowest-income earners.

This is a long-term decline in Australia’s sector.

Investment has been minimal since the 1990s.

By 2021, social housing was down to barely 3% of all occupied dwellings in Queensland.

The sector has withered on the vine, even as demand for its secure and affordable tenancies soared.

To manage the resulting mismatch, the state government ratcheted up entry restrictions on social housing.

The income limit to be eligible for social housing has been frozen since the 2000s.

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