New public housing addresses emerging crisis
IPSWICH West MP Jim Madden was brought up in an era where “whole suburbs” of public housing were built in Leichhardt and Riverview, but suitable land in the fastest growing region in Queensland is obviously a lot harder to come by these days.
The Labor MP said his office received calls every day from people about accessing social housing and he had noticed an increase in the volume since the start of COVID-19.
The state government has set a five-year target to sign contracts to build 383 dwellings in Ipswich by next year.
As of June 1 it has signed off on 236 dwellings, with 168 of those already built through the $1.6 billion Housing and Construction Jobs Program.
Mr Madden was joined by Minister for Communities and Housing Leeanne Enoch on Tuesday to inspect the construction site of a new 12-unit complex at Brassall, with accommodation specially designed for people with a disability.
Ms Enoch said there was a particular need for new public housing blocks in Ipswich due to its expected population growth in the coming years and the impacts of COVID-19 on the wider housing market.
“What we’re seeing post COVID is a lot of pressure on the housing system more broadly,” she said.
“With lots of people entering the home ownership space that’s putting pressure on house prices and then of course the downward pressure on the private rental space then actually puts pressure on the social housing and affordable housing space.
“Social housing is trying to keep pace with that (population growth).
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“Every analyst predicted the complete opposite to what we’re experiencing right now and it’s not just Queensland, it’s right across the country.
“Not only have we got the impacts of COVID as in people not moving around as much and coming home, but we’ve got mass migration from particularly Victoria and New South Wales where we’re predicting 70,000-80,000 more residents moving into Queensland.
“That is putting pressure on the housing market right across the state. Especially when you’re seeing people from Melbourne and Sydney buying properties sight unseen.”
Ms Enoch said social housing projects such as the $3.6 million facility now underway in Brassall were “absolutely critical” to provide that safety net.
The demand has only increased since the start of the pandemic, including from people who may have never reached out for help from the government before.
“The (state government’s) Housing Service Centre is not just about social housing, it’s also about assisting people in the private rental market and I think last year alone there was about 220,000 services that were provided to people as a result of COVID,” she said.
“We have to remind ourselves all the time we don’t all start from the same place.
“For some people being able to secure a house has been a real life long struggle.
“When they’re able to get those services and find something there’s a sense of relief and safety. It just gives people hope for the future.”
A new $10.4 million 30-unit public housing complex is close to opening in North Ipswich.
Mr Madden said the Brassall complex, which has six two-bedroom units designed for people in wheelchairs or with mobility issues, was in an ideal location near the Brassall Shopping Centre and public transport.
“When the Brassall Bikeway is completed you’ll be able to walk to Riverlink from here in 15 minutes,” he said.
“This is how we do it now. We builder smaller units and that also goes some way to address the homelessness.”
Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.