Family's desperate search for suitable accommodation
AN IPSWICH family searching for suitable and affordable housing for their disabled daughter believes they are all out of options, saying any slight strain on their meagre budget would put them over the edge.
Michelle and Arthur Wright moved from Townsville to Ipswich last year to be closer to the Queensland Children's Hospital for 15-year-old daughter Selena.
The teenager has autoimmune encephalitis, which causes inflammation of the brain when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy brain cells.
"She's got scarring on the brain now, which makes her a little bit slower and her joints aren't working properly," Mrs Wright said.
"She's just got back to walking now."
The couple is both on carer payments and live with their five children, two of whom have disabilities.
They moved into National Rental Affordability Scheme accommodation in North Booval last August without inspecting it first, such was their haste to move.
Mrs Wright said the house is not suitable for Selena's needs, with the bathroom the biggest concern; they can't fit her chair in the shower and the slippery floor makes life difficult while bathing her.
"I can't physically get in the shower with her," she said.
"I've got a disabled daughter and I can't even bath her properly."
After submitting an application with the Department of Housing, the family was offered a "perfect" wheelchair-accessible five-bedroom home in Flinders View in February but felt the estimated $300-310 a week for rent was too much.
They pay $250 a week where they are currently on a periodic lease and Mrs Wright said the extra strain on the budget would just be too much with five children to look after.
She wants her family to remain in the area where they are settled, close to Brisbane for visits to the Queensland Children's Hospital every three months and suitable services for Selena around Ipswich.
The department said under the Fair Rent Policy 2016, rent for department properties is assessed at 25 per cent of household income and capped at the market rent.
The estimated $300-310 is under that marker for the family's household income.
Mrs Wright raised her issue with the Office of the Queensland Ombudsman, with the department responding in a letter by saying there were no "suitable properties available" for their needs after she declined the house offered.
To add to her worries, Michelle said her current home will no longer come be covered by the NRAS scheme next year when it expires.
She has frantically searched for new accommodation but things were becoming increasingly desperate.
"I said to (the department) we really need that house but there's no way my husband and I can afford to pay that," she said.
"We could afford to pay the rent but then we can't afford to eat or for electricity. We had to decline the house.
"We've got nowhere to go. It's all getting to us. We'll have no choice but to leave here and uproot my children again after just coming here a year ago... and further away from services (Selena) needs. I just don't know what to do next."
The Department of Housing has a limited number of four and five-bedroom wheelchair accessible properties, all of which are occupied.
Wait times for these houses can be "extensive" but the department said once a suitable property is found, the family will be contacted via the Ipswich Housing Service Centres Occupational Therapists.
A department spokesperson said it was unable to comment on individual circumstances.
"The Queensland Government houses some of Queensland's most vulnerable and when tenants pay rent, it is affordable as they pay 25 per cent of their household income," they said.
"Rents are reviewed regularly and can change if the household's assessable income changes - for example if the income has changed or if an income earner leaves, or joins, the household."