Hordes of homeless in Emerald


FAMILIES forced out of housing are living in cars, furtively driving around in the dark until they find a quiet, safe spot to park.

No wheels? More worries.

The Emerald Neighbourhood Centre has run out of free tents.

Couch surfing or squatting is how young and old get through the night as the rental accommodation crisis hits new lows and swells the numbers of homeless in Emerald.

Central Highlands Council Deputy Mayor and neighbourhood centre patron Paul Bell said the organisation was dealing with more than 25 new clients a month - locals and transients in search of work - up from 10 per month a year ago.

Another damaging trend was families multi-sharing properties to cut down on expenses, resulting in the breakdown of long-standing relationships.

"After Christmas there was a lot of family breakdowns because of the multi-sharing," Cr Bell said.

"It's sad and there's nothing we can do. We never thought we'd see the day where we give them a tent to go somewhere. Now we've run out of tents.

"People are living in their cars, and if they've got a car they're lucky.


"If they haven't, they are squatting, double-bunking or couch surfing. It is men, women and children."

Cr Paul Bell


"Domestic violence is rife.

"… A lot of these people are being encouraged to come here for the jobs, for opportunities, and certainly through the media it's being talked of as the land of milk and honey but when it comes to the mere fact of getting a unit to rent, a house or roof over your head, it's a significant problem."

Accommodation - responses and strategies for housing - is one of the major issues on the agenda at this week's Central Highlands Development Corporation's Investing in our Future two-day forum.

Cr Bell said 25 accommodation units were urgently needed to support the neighbourhood centre in dealing with the homeless crisis in a rental market he described as "the worst we've ever seen".

"There is no longer a good cheap rental option where you can put one, two or three different single people together or a family into a two-bedder," he said.

"They're just not there and the only option is to leave town or continue to live rough, which I think in the 21st century is a pretty unacceptable standard of living for people in our community.


"If the neighbourhood centre is in the high 20s now, of people identifying themselves as homeless, what happens in two years time?"

Cr Paul Bell


Cr Bell said all support agencies for the homeless and disadvantaged were "at the end of their tether" across the region.

He called on government, business and industry leaders to come together to brainstorm solutions.

"Growth is good and something we support… but I think we're missing the point if we think we can support and build camps for those who are able to participate in the growth industries," Cr Bell said.

"We've got to make sure someone's building accommodation and support for those who are at the margins.

"Now is the time for those benefiting the most from the boom to look at how we can fix and support those who are in these situations where the rental market is totally outside of their income stream and capacity to maintain food on the table and a roof over their heads."

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Walk-in mine a gem

UP FOR AWARD: The Miners Heritage Walk-In Mine tour.

The Miners Heritage Walk-In Mine is competing for a tourism award

New store opened in Clermont

KENNEDY & GRACE: Store owner Chloe Hodgkinson with her children in the new shop in Clermont.

Clermont is home to the newly re-opened Kennedy & Grace.

Girls night out in memory of Kim-Marie Brown

SUPPORT: Grace Ferguson with her parents Kyle and Kim, at the day for diabetes held in Dingo at the weekend.
Photo Meghan Kidd / CQ News

Girls Night Out in memory of Kim-Marie Brown.

Local Partners

Plenty of things to do in the region in the coming week

From dance productions to bargain hunting - here's plenty to do in the region in this week and next

Barry Gibb is coming to Bluesfest 2017

FANS: Barry Gibb talks to a fan next to a cardboard cutout of his young self.

Aged 70, Gibb has re-launched his solo music career with a new album

Peter Pan comes to Emerald

Peter Pan comes to the Central Highlands.

Peter Pan flies in to the Central Highlands this month

A little mystery adds fun to this event

SOIREE: Executive committee member, Rach McDowall.

Enjoy a mysterious night out at the Shed Soiree.

Shannen Doherty reveals fear of dying in post on chemo

Actor Shannen Doherty shared this image of her lying in a hospital bed after a chemotherapy session.

Actor has been fighting cancer since 2015

Eddie Redmayne's stage fright on latest Harry Potter film

Actor Eddie Redmayne stars in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Actor felt like kid again when he got to film with a wand

Salma Hayek: 'Trump planted story because I turned him down'

Actor Salma Hayek is the latest woman who says U.S presidential nominee Donald Trump acted inappropriately.

Salma Hayek latest woman to accuse Trump of misconduct

Leonardo DiCaprio nearly drowned while filming

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio

Oscar winner almost drowned in Galapagos

Miranda Kerr to wed next year

Supermodel Miranda Kerr

Supermodel and Snapchat founder to wed

What's on the small screen this week

Georgia Love pictured in a scene from The Bachelorette finale.

TWO big reality shows wrap up this week while

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.

What our mayor thinks of the new draft SEQPlan

The plan to use the innovative technology as part of the new Maroochydore CBD was cemented on site today when Mayor Mark Jamieson and Envac Asia Region president Chun Yong Ha formally signed the contract for the $20 million underground waste collection system.

New plan accommodates Sunshine Coast Council's vision for growth.

Dusit Thani finance crisis 'just a small hiccup'

ON TRACK: Springfield Land Chairman, Maha Sinnathamby, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, Developer Richard Turner and Springfield Land Deputy Chairman, Bob Sharpless, at the recent resort sod turning ceremony.

Property developer says project remains firmly on track