Emergency accommodation needed for District

Mar 17, 2021

Emergency accommodation needed for District

Mar 17, 2021

THE State Labor Government urgently needs to invest in temporary emergency accommodation to counteract an alarming shortage of rental properties in the Herbert River District, says Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto. 

Mr Dametto said he was “dismayed” at the lack of emergency accommodation for local families who were in danger of becoming homeless as their current rental lease expired. 

“We’ve been getting multiple calls to our office from constituents across the District desperate for a roof over their heads,” Mr Dametto said. 

“Unfortunately, there’s just nothing available locally and many are forced to look for emergency accommodation in Townsville.” 

Mr Dametto said it was imperative the State Government ensured “they did not leave families behind” as interstate migration to Queensland led to a population boom. 

“We know the scarcity of housing is a problem across the North. According to the Real Estate Institute of Queensland, figures for the December quarter showed 90 per cent of regional Queensland dipped to a record low of just 0.575 per cent rental vacancy,” he said. 

“The State needs to be keeping up with the infrastructure to match. Too many families are finding themselves in a predicament where the lease is not being renewed because for instance, the new owner also wants to live at the property. 

“These are good, respectable tenants. They are gainfully employed, some of their children even have jobs themselves. But they just need somewhere to live.” 

Ingham Real Estate principal Mark Spina said the current rental market was “very tight”. 

“For our office, this has been the case for the last 18-24 months, however it has now become even tighter,” he said. 

“From what we have seen in our office, properties that have traditionally always been rental properties are selling to owner occupiers. This, coupled with an influx from people looking to relocate to Ingham, seems to have increased.” 

Felix Reitano Real Estate owner Felix Reitano and Head Property Manager Judy Reitano said rental availability was at an “all-time low”. 

“All houses that were for rent have been rented. We have people lined up to rent including some emergency cases where people with children that we can’t help,” Mr Reitano said. 

“You could see it building it up to this point over the years. The State Government has not kept pace with the growth of areas. I previously raised the issue with the former State Housing Minister Robert Schwarten years ago. 

“We’ve had an influx of people wanting to move away from the south to escape the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Mrs Reitano said the situation was “quite desperate”. 

“I have families calling and emailing me to say they have to come to the District on and off for work, but even when I tell them houses and flats are scarce to rent right now, some of them still want to stop by the office in case something does come up,” she said. 

“I think the demand for rentals will increase, especially with the crushing season and tourist season approaching.” 

Both the Reitanos and Mr Spina were supportive of the State providing more emergency accommodation in the District.  

“I would welcome State Government assistance for temporary emergency accommodation, however this may not be the long term solution, especially if this trend continues,” Mr Spina said. 

“We may need to have discussions about providing better opportunities for tenants to be able to purchase properties, particularly if the rental home they are renting comes on the market for sale.  

“Also, the need to attract more investors. There are some good homes that may make great investment properties. Regional towns like Ingham usually do not attract capital increase investors, however for the reasonable returns on outlay investor, this market should be more attractive.” 

Hinchinbrook Community Support Centre CEO Linda McClelland said the Centre was approached by an average of five people per week seeking housing for themselves or their families.  

“We have 23 families on our waitlist for crisis housing. Recent waitlist information from the Housing Service Centre for our shire is 45 eligible for one bedroom, 58 eligible for two bedroom, 32 eligible for three bedroom, six eligible for four bedroom and one eligible for five bedroom. 

“While the amount of emergency accommodation is limited in Ingham, the main limiting factor is the shortage of private and social housing rental for these families to move into, to free up the emergency accommodation for another family.” 

Ms McClelland said the long-term solution to the housing shortage was “appropriate exit options in the private and social housing markets, so that tenants can move as soon as they are ready”. 

“If emergency accommodation is increased it is imperative that funding to provide the necessary support is also increased, so that the barriers to successful tenancies can be addressed,” she said.  

Mr Dametto said he would be writing to Housing Minister Leeanne Enoch to urge her to support State investment in emergency accommodation for the Herbert River District. 

“The State Government needs to get on top of this now before we have a full-blown crisis on our hands,” Mr Dametto said.