20-year wait: Scary data reveals truth about housing
A GOLD Coast man waiting 21 years for a safe roof over his head has missed out again.
The man aged over 55 has been on the State Government's social housing waiting list since 1999 and is unlikely to ever get a room - if, in fact, he is still alive - because the queue is getting longer, and it has nothing to do with social distancing.
New data from the department of housing and public works shows the number of people on the list jumped 25 per cent in the year to June 30, 2019 to 4543 - well up on the 3615 adults and children waiting a year earlier.
Community groups say the figures will only get worse once the full impact of the post COVID-19 fall out is felt.
On average, those needing social housing waited two years to hear if they had been approved.
An overwhelming majority of those who applied for help were assessed to have high to very high housing need.
Jane Holmes, CEO and founder of homeless charity Support the Girls Australia, said lack of affordability and long social housing waiting lists on the Gold Coasts was a worrying issue.
"Housing staff try to do the best they can with the lack of availability, but you do see some people on the list for a long time," she said.
"A mature-age woman couch surfing with friends might be pushed back on the list, the same with mums with bigger families because the right stock isn't there.
"It is not uncommon to hear the younger ones waiting for up to two years but for the mature age it can be five to 10. There seems to be an emphasis on vulnerability in the younger people but I would argue that it is actually the opposite.
Ms Holmes said her charity, which helps hundreds of women every month on the Gold Coast, was bracing for more need once COVID-19 assistance is turned off.
"It is worse for people now, we are more marginalised than ever before. Benefits and the substantial government support have helped enormously for people to function and survive while the shutdowns happened, but when that all stops we expect the need to come back tenfold."
A Department of Housing and Public Works spokesman said while those on the register may not have been approved for housing, work has been done to address their needs with other solutions such as bond loans and rental grants.
"Allocations are determined by the individual needs of applicants, including the person or family's circumstances, their wellbeing, financial status and their ability to independently sustain a tenancy," the spokesman said.
Housing and Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni said, in addition to traditional housing measures, specialist COVID-19 housing packages had given 2432 Queensland families emergency assistance, 83 of which were Gold Coasters.
Member for Gaven Megan Scanlon said the Palaszczuk Government had taken extra steps to
ensure the safety of Gold Coasters who were homeless or living in overcrowded accommodation had adequate housing, given some federal COVID-19 support payments were coming to an end.
"With the end of JobKeeper looming, we know there are more people who could be needing our help," she said.
"Our Housing Construction Jobs Program is building 392 homes on the Gold Coast over five years and construction has commenced on 189.
"To date, we have completed 66 new homes on the Gold Coast, with a further 55 to be completed by December 2020."
Originally published as 20-year wait: Scary data reveals truth about search for housing