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Queensland Audit Office highlights lack of modelling to address rising social housing demand

Plans to build 6,375 new social housing dwellings won't go close to meeting demand, the audit office says. (ABC News: John Gunn)

Queensland is failing to properly monitor its social housing register or build enough new social homes and is not modelling future housing demand, a new report has found.

The Queensland Audit Office (QAO) conducted an examination of the Housing Department to determine whether social housing is being managed effectively.

Its report, published today, found the department was not conducting any modelling to forecast what the register will look like in the next three years.

There are around 31,000 households on the social housing register, an increase of 78 per cent since 2018.

"As the private rental market becomes more competitive, many Queenslanders will struggle to access secure and affordable housing," the report found.

"This may be compounded by the increasing cost of living, interstate migration, natural disasters, and major events such as the 2032 Olympics.

"The department does not have a model to predict what the register will look like in coming years at the state and regional levels.

"This information is necessary to better inform its response to housing needs."

Queensland Shelter is calling for greater investment in both social and affordable housing. (ABC News: John Gunn)

The Queensland government has funded the construction of at least 6,375 new social housing dwellings by 2025, but the QAO report concluded this would not be enough to meet demand.

"Current trends suggest the number of applicants will far exceed new dwellings in 2025," it said.

'We do need better planning'

Queensland Shelter executive director Fiona Caniglia said it was clear that the extra homes planned would not be enough to meet demand.

Ms Caniglia said the sector has been calling for greater investment into both social and affordable housing.

"It's great that the report has really put the spotlight on the fact that we do need better planning and forecasting," she said.

The report also found that 15.4 per cent of Queensland's public housing dwellings were under-occupied and that the department did not proactively or progressively transition tenants out of social housing.

Housing Minister Leeanne Enoch said the government "absolutely" welcomed the report and the chance to improve the housing system.

"It's come at the very right time," she said.

"We've seen during COVID some incredible pressures on the housing system right across the board, whether you're purchasing a property, building a property, renting a property or if you're seeking social housing, there have been incredible pressures, no matter where you look."

Ms Enoch said since May last year the Housing Department had been contacting people on the social housing register to determine their needs.

"Twenty-one per cent of those [people] the department had contacted were either not contactable were no longer eligible or did not require social housing," the minister said.

"That housing register has to be really accurate, so that we can look at, you know, what is the need? Where is the need? And of course, if that requires us to move our targets.

"That's why I welcome this report."

The report makes eight recommendations to the Housing Department, including:

  • Better monitoring of the housing register
  • Better tenancy management to address changing needs
  • Helping transition tenants away from social housing where appropriate

It also recommended the department model future demand for social housing at state and regional levels "incorporating historical and predictive analysis that includes social, economic, and environmental factors to inform its planning, investment, and service delivery".

Ms Enoch said the department had accepted all recommendations and would meet with Federal Housing Minister Julie Collins on Friday.

"The federal government made an election commitment to establish a $10 billion housing investment fund to see 30,000 new social and affordable homes built across the country," Ms Enoch said.

"I'm looking forward to making sure that Queensland gets its fair share in that."

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