Women in rural QLD facing housing crisis
WOMEN in regional Queensland, including Mackay, are facing a housing crisis.
New research reveals that one in eight women on a low to moderate income have been homeless in the past five years.
YWCA National Housing surveyed 1039 women across regional Australia to determine their access to safe, affordable housing.
The research found 12 per cent of women living in regional Queensland reported having been homeless in the past five years, while two per cent were homeless at the time the study was conducted in late 2019.
One in five Queensland research participants knew of at least one woman who was currently homeless.
YWCA national housing and property development director Jan Berriman said the Women's Housing Needs in Regional Australia report revealed higher homelessness levels than in previous studies.
"One-quarter of women who had been homeless, either in the past five years or currently, did not share their situation with any family or friend, reflecting the likelihood of a much higher level of homelessness than previously understood," she said.
"This is the first national study of women's access to housing outside the nation's capital cities and it clearly shows an urgent need for more safe, secure and affordable accommodation."
Mackay-based Yvonne Harris from QShelter said her organisation had noticed an issue with older women losing their jobs or struggling on a reduced income after their hours were cut due to the impacts of COVID-19, causing rental stress.
"It is the number of lone female households that has contributed the most to the growth of older households at risk of stress and potentially homelessness," QShelter communications manager Scott McGregor said.
More than 3800 clients in the Mackay region received support from a specialist homelessness service in the 12 months ending June 20 last year, according to QShelter.
As at the end of last year, 285 Mackay residents were in National Rental Affordability Scheme housing. NRAS provided financial incentives for investors to purchase new affordable housing that must be rented at a minimum of 20 per cent below the market rent.
"However the scheme is winding down, which means many of these households in Mackay will start to face the challenge of meeting market rents as property owners lose financial incentives to provide subsidised rental accommodation," Mr McGregor said.