In a significant step forward to improve the Sunshine Coast’s housing and homelessness response, a new action plan has been outlined with a raft of key priorities.
Sunshine Coast Council has revealed its new Housing and Homelessness Action Plan, to help tackle homelessness and improve housing across the region.
The plan, which was endorsed at council’s Ordinary Meeting last Thursday, will help shape the local authority’s future housing and homelessness response, underpinned by five key pillars: delivery, facilitation, advocacy, building capacity and building our knowledge.
On the Coast, the main causes of homelessness include a lack of social and affordable housing, low rental vacancy rate, domestic and family violence, financial stress, poor physical and mental health, and addiction.
Mayor Mark Jamieson says that, like many regions in Southeast Queensland (SEQ) and across Australia, the region is experiencing significant housing affordability challenges and increased levels of homelessness.
“Council recognises the housing crisis is a situation that is difficult to quickly rectify,” he says.
“All tiers of government – local, state and federal – as well as the private sector, including relevant industry associations and peak bodies and community housing organisations need a plan to work together to effectively address the current situation.”
Cr Jamieson says the new plan will help build on the council’s existing commitments and provide support for the community.
“The plan outlines new initiatives directed at achieving a more secure housing future for our community and sets out how council can contribute to more diverse, affordable living outcomes and reduce the impacts and risk of homelessness in our region,” he says.
“One delivery action I’m glad to announce is that council is investigating partnership delivery models to deliver affordable and key worker housing through multiple dwelling units on council land.
“Preliminary project scopes have been prepared, and these projects are intended to be submitted to the state and federal governments as funding opportunities arise. Council has and will continue to support community-led initiatives being developed on the Sunshine Coast such as Sleepbus, Roofs to Recovery and a community-led initiative utilising vacant units for women’s transitional housing in Nambour.”
He says the council has invested in a web-based tool, available to the community, which provides statistics on housing affordability and availability.
The Housing Monitor presents the statistics in the form of tables and graphs for a range of regional geographies, households and income types.
Division 10 Councillor David Law says 2021 Census data shows one-in-three mortgagees and almost half of all renters are in housing stress, paying more than 30 per cent of their gross income on mortgage or rental repayments.
“While council cannot control all elements of housing in our region, it’s a high priority in our planning,” Cr Law says.
“We’re working with the public, private and community sectors to encourage delivery of responsive housing and a range of different housing types and costs in the right locations to cater for households of all sizes and incomes.
“We are committed to working along-side all levels of government, industry and businesses to take collaborative action.”
BlueCHP is an organisation working on the Coast, aiming to provide affordable and subsidised housing solutions to disadvantaged individuals and households experiencing housing stress. This includes key workers, seniors and those at risk of homelessness in the community.
BlueCHP executive manager Darren Mew says the new plan contains many practical initiatives, including a focus on capturing local government’s investment, in perpetuity, through community housing providers.
For more than 35 years, Q Shelter has worked as a peak body to improve housing outcomes for Queenslanders. It works collaboratively to influence solutions to housing needs and homelessness.
“With a backdrop of record high rents, record low availability and an increasing number of individuals and families in housing stress or experiencing homelessness, there has never been a more important time to bring a spotlight to these issues at the local level,” Q Shelter manager Jackson Hills says.
“The action plan goes further than that though, assigning a suite of actions and focus areas for solutions, and ensuring the Sunshine Coast is well positioned to take advantage of state and federal government funding coming online right now.”
View the Sunshine Coast Housing and Homelessness Action Plan 2023 at sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au.
- The main causes of homelessness include a lack of social and affordable housing, low rental vacancy rate, domestic and family violence, financial stress, poor physical and mental health, and addiction.
- The number of people estimated to be experiencing homelessness has increased by 54 per cent: from 785 in 2016 to 1205 in 2021 (ABS Census 2016 and 2021).
- The rental vacancy rate on the Sunshine Coast, as of January 2023, was one per cent, which is three to four times less than the rate considered suitable.
- The Coast has a lower proportion of social housing (two per cent of total residential dwellings in June 2022), compared with 3.6 per cent for SEQ and the state average of 4.2 per cent.
At a glance and as part of the plan, Sunshine Coast Council is:
- investigating and scoping the development of dwelling houses and secondary dwellings on underutilised council land, for temporary and or long-term use
- exploring delivery models for affordable and key worker housing (multiple dwelling units) on council-controlled land assets
- working with the Department of Housing on providing temporary or crisis accommodation for families or persons in need, as identified from time to time by the department.
The key priorities of the action plan include:
- utilising council land and/or buildings as affordable residential housing options for key workers currently being displaced by escalating rents and prices for housing
- discounting fees and concessions for community organisations
- supporting community-led initiatives
- facilitating the efforts of the state government and community housing providers to deliver social and affordable housing projects.