Minister Karen Struthers with Barbara Mayfield and Andrew Stewart of Mackay.
Minister Karen Struthers with Barbara Mayfield and Andrew Stewart of Mackay. Contributed

Gov wants town's houses back

THE State Government leased about 100 Moranbah homes to a mining company when the town wasn't booming - now it wants them back to help ease the housing squeeze.

Housing Minister Karen Struthers said some leases would end about the middle of next year and it was time to rescind or reassess them to help improve housing affordability.

Ms Struthers said the houses in question were vacant about five or six years ago and again during the Global Financial Crisis when they were leased to BMA.

She said they weren't in demand back then, but it was time to see if they could be reclaimed and used to deliver more affordable housing.

Ms Struthers got a first-hand look at Moranbah's housing affordability woes yesterday - a month after the Daily Mercury revealed some rentals had skyrocketed to $3000 a week.

"From any fair-minded person that's excessive," Ms Struthers said.

"I went to see a house (in Moranbah) which sold for $620,000. It was a lovely little family home but in any other community it would have sold for $380,000 - that's the kind of pressure we're facing."

Ms Struthers was in Moranbah yesterday to meet with residents, real estate agents and Isaac Regional Council personnel to tackle housing pressures.

She also met with community organisation Emergency and Long Term Accommodation (ELAM) to get a clearer picture of Moranbah's housing issues.

Ms Struthers said a Rent Affordability Taskforce had already developed a number of measures to assist households, which she discussed yesterday with key stakeholders in the rental sector.

"I've approved additional funding for Tenancy Advice and Advocacy Service to help tenants in Moranbah protect their rights, including their ability to challenge excessive rent increases," she said.

"We'll also be expanding our Rentconnect service to cover Moranbah," Ms Struthers said.

"This service helps people under housing stress find and secure private rental accommodation."

Ms Struthers said there were 192 units of social housing in the Isaac region.

An Isaac Affordable Housing Trust, which will deliver rentals set at a maximum of 80% of the market value, has also been established.

Ms Struthers said she would have a round the table meeting with Isaac Regional Council personnel in February.

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