Dr Bruce Flegg.
Dr Bruce Flegg. Brett Wortman

Public housing under-occupied

MORE than half regional Queensland's public housing is under-occupied with some single residents living in three-bedroom homes despite thousands of struggling families on the government waiting list.

One of the biggest areas for under-occupied social housing is Caboolture, where 658 homes have two or more empty rooms.

Not far behind is Ipswich, where residents of 604 homes have more living room than they need, figures released to APN Newsdesk by the Department of Housing and Public Works shows.

Public Works and Housing Minister Dr Bruce Flegg said a decade ago state-subsidised homes accommodated 10,000 families.

Now government properties house only 3000 families.

Dr Flegg said Queensland's public housing stock was increasingly unable to house the growing number of very high-need people the government dwellings were meant to serve.

"Without urgent action we will have more people sleeping in doorways, in the back of cars..." he said.

The housing crisis was significant in regional areas, Dr Flegg explained, where mining areas had created rental traps.

A regional hub hit particularly hard by the social housing crisis in the face of the resources boom, Gladstone.

While many families have been forced to leave their hometown unable to afford rents of up to $700 per week for a townhouse, 159 social housing properties are under occupied.

It's a similar story in Mackay, where 297 dwellings have spare rooms while families battle with soaring rental prices on the private market.

In a bid to help the 31,000 people on the waiting list for housing, the Queensland Government is working with all public housing tenants in under occupied properties with the prospect of down-sizing or sharing.

So far, 600 people who were living in government housing and not paying rent have come forward, resulting in a predicted rental income of $2 million per year.

The State Government is looking to building more one and two-bedroom dwellings to give people living in under-occupied homes the opportunity to move into these smaller residences.

"There is no suggestion anybody will be forced to move to an area they don't want to," he said.

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