Last week, the Queensland Government announced radical reforms to the social housing system under what Minister for Housing and Public Works Tim Mander described as the biggest shakeup in recent years.
According to Mander, the new Housing 2020 Strategy will establish a flexible, regionally based, integrated system capable of delivering more than 12,000 additional social and affordable housing dwellings, aiming to meet 90 per cent of all social housing demand in Queensland by 2020.
"This Strategy is about bringing Queensland's social housing system into the 21st Century. Over the past 20 years the composition of households seeking social housing has changed almost beyond recognition. These days, tenants are far more likely to be singles or single parents and more than half have at least one household member with a disability," he said.
"Unfortunately, while the needs of our tenants have changed, the system hasn't. For many years, previous governments have continued to build large numbers of detached three and four bedroom houses, clustered into dense suburban enclaves with little regard to the social consequences for tenants or the community at large.”
Housing 2020 includes major urban renewal projects to revitalise areas with a high concentration of social housing located in Logan City, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Townsville, Redcliffe, Mt Isa and Gladstone.
Mander emphasized the main focus of the reforms will be in making social housing transitional rather than permanent. He explained the new strategy also includes the delivery of 820 new properties in Indigenous communities to help reduce overcrowding, plus assistance for 200 Indigenous families to help them transition into home ownership.
Steps are being taken to reshape housing assistance, such as reducing social housing under-occupancy to two per cent, helping 250,000 households move into the private home market, transferring 90 per cent of tenancy management to the non-government sector and delivering three supported accommodation facilities.
"While there are those who will always require ongoing social housing, there are others whose barriers to the private market could be overcome with the right support. Housing 2020 is about acknowledging and overcoming those barriers and providing real pathways into the private market," Mander said.
“We want to make sure people have access to the help and support they need to give them the skills and resilience to find and sustain tenancies in the private rental market instead of becoming reliant on social housing."
The provision of social and affordable housing is crucial in ensuring the safety and security of every citizen and provides a foundation for community participation, employment and better health outcomes.
“In a great state like Queensland, it is important that we ensure our most vulnerable have access to safe and affordable housing. Yet for too long, Queensland’s social housing system has been held back by an old fashioned delivery model, underpinned by outdated assumptions,” said Queensland Premier Campbell Newman.
“Through these reforms, my Government will bring Queensland’s social housing system in line with the current demand and make a real difference to the lives of our most vulnerable.”