About 220,000 people are tipped to leave the southern states for Queensland over the next five years, a survey from the Property Council of Australia (PCA) has revealed.
The potential influx has the industry body so alarmed they are calling on the state government to take urgent action to combat Queensland's housing shortage.
The figure comes from a survey commissioned by the PCA in early 2022, which asked 1,000 residents in Sydney and Victoria how likely they were to move to Queensland over the next five years.
Five per cent of respondents said they would "definitely" or "probably" head north.
Lifestyle, climate and housing affordability were the three biggest factors influencing their decisions.
Last year, 50,162 people moved to Queensland from other states, many weary of continued avoid COVID-19 lockdowns.
PCA executive director in Queensland, Jen Williams, told ABC Radio Brisbane that Queensland did not have the infrastructure to deal with the continuing demand.
"We haven't been building enough housing for over a decade to cope with what we already have," she said.
"We've got more people looking to come here and we're already not building enough housing for the people that we have."
No other option but a tent
Charities say supply shortages are so severe that they are resorting to handing out tents to families unable to find a home.
St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland chief executive Kevin Mercer told ABC Radio Brisbane that volunteers had likely handed out hundreds of tents in the past few months.
"Tents seems to be the only solution at the moment because everything else is all taken up," he said.
"We're not just talking people who aren't working, these are working families as well that can't find accommodation that are having to live in a tent.
"They'll get up in the morning, they'll go to work, the kids will go to school, they'll come home to their tent. It's really unacceptable."
Mr Mercer said some families had set up in camping grounds and national parks, left with nowhere else to go.
North Queensland's Yumba Meta women's shelter manager Brenda Lucas, who is based in Townsville, said women and children were staying longer, up to six months or even 18 months.
"These are women and children living in a shared facility, there's no privacy other than their room.
"Our aim is to support them to navigate the mainstream system but when you look at exiting to long-term housing, or even just housing within the private sector, there's nothing there for them to go into."
Queensland Council of Social Services (QCOSS) chief executive Aimee McVeigh said some women had even returned to violent relationships to escape homelessness.
"The main reason that people are approaching specialist homelessness services is domestic and family violence," she said.
"Alarmingly, our members are telling us about stories of women and children returning to incredibly dangerous situations because they simply have nowhere to live."
Summit needed to find solutions
The PCA is calling on the state government to urgently convene a housing summit to bring community, industry and experts to the table to address the housing demand.
"To come up with some bold ideas to break down some red tape and to get some housing on the ground really quickly, to make sure that we address the backlog that already exists," Ms Williams said.
"The reason we are keen to have everyone come together in this housing summit is so that we don't end up with this reactive environment where we have to really quickly pull together emergency accommodation.
"We can actually plan out what is our vision, how do we want to grow as a community?"
Ms Williams said the Olympics was an opportunity to decide what areas were "go zones" and "no-go zones".
"Ultimately, people are coming. People are already here. We have to do something about it," she said.
Nationally, migration is also set to rise with the federal government last week confirming the cap on permanent migration would be lifted by 35,000 places this financial year, bringing the total cap to 195,000.
Ms McVeigh backed the PCA's calls for a housing summit.
"The fact that the property council's coming forward, and many other stakeholders across industry, really reflects the depth of this crisis and the fact that almost all Queenslanders are currently being touched by the housing crisis."
The PCA has also released a proposal to deal with the rising demand for housing, entitled "A Home for Every Queenslander".
It makes four recommendations:
- Educate the community about "the benefits of good growth"
- Incentivise the creation of more housing designed for renters
- Empower and resource Economic Development Queensland and the state government's Growth Areas team to identify opportunities for urban development
- Reform planning processes to reduce red tape
Ms Williams said addressing the low availability of rental properties was a priority.
"The challenge we have is that investors have left the market and we've got lots of homebuyers, which is fabulous on the one hand, but it also means that we don't have enough housing available for rental," she said.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles said he had instructed Queensland's Housing Supply Expert Panel to advise local councils on how they could tackle the lack of supply.
"Addressing housing supply and affordability should be the number one priority of local government right now," he said.
"Some councils have out-of-date housing strategies that need to be updated given the population growth we have seen."
State Opposition leader David Crisafulli backed the PCA's calls for a housing summit.
"If the Premier won't host a summit on Queensland's housing crisis, then I will."