Sandy Bolton addresses the public meeting in Noosa on housing affordability.
Sandy Bolton addresses the public meeting in Noosa on housing affordability. Peter Gardiner

Noosa's housing affordability goes through the roof

FINDING, and keeping, a roof over your head is tougher here in Noosa than any other region in Australia.

Noosa MP Sandy Bolton has spoken at a community meeting about our local housing affordability crisis, and how finding solutions is a challenge for the community and governments at all levels.

Ms Bolton said the Federal Government issued data from its Smarter Cities Plan in December 2017 which compared Noosa and Sunshine Coast data with other major population centres in Australia.

"This shows we have the highest dwelling price to income ratio of all areas,” she said.

"Median house prices are over nine times the average household income level, which is substantially higher than Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. It's almost unbelievable.”

Ms Bolton said 14.3 per cent of local households were in rental stress, 6.4 per cent in mortgage stress and they were both significantly above the average of the other areas.

She said the proportion of houses in the rental market was 27.8 per cent, below the average of 30 per cent.

"The number of dwelling units per 100,000 population in the public and community housing sector is second lowest and almost half of the average from all of the other 22 areas.”

She said the plight of local retail and hospitality workers, among the lowest paid in the shire, was daunting.

"What we have, and we have had for some time, is that they are paying 80 per cent of their income on rent or mortgage,” she said.

She said this lack of affordable community housing is reflected in "what we're seeing at the grass roots”.

Ms Bolton said there was a lack of information as to extent of the impact that online short-term rentals were have on the lack of affordable properties to rent.

She said local charity Santa's Helpers six years ago had assisted 92 children whose families were seriously under the poverty level.

"This year we had nearly 1200, that is a six-year period and I think that is very shameful,” Ms Bolton said.

"This has been going on right under our nose.We have many people who seem like they are coping well, but they are not.”

Ms Bolton many were struggling to make ends meet with the rising cost of living so they are renting out rooms to try and survive.

Just that that day she had been assisting a father and his three-year-old daughter who had nowhere to sleep for the night.

"We have a situation where our emergency housing is being used long-term because we don't have the affordable housing so it creates constantly this frustration.

"These aren't newcomers to our area, these people have lived here for 10, 20, 30 years and are finding themselves in this situation because of health, because of relationship break ups, because their child has cancer and they have to leave work.

"These are our workers, these are our people and they are in big trouble,” she said.

The solutions include community housing models used by Coast to Bay where they develop blocks and sell a percentage on the open market and reserve a pool at affordable rates where the "market isn't pushing the product up”.

"The difficulty here in Noosa is accessing the affordable land,” she said.

She said there is also the ability to buy large houses and divide them into small flats accommodation which works in areas where land is priced high but the challenge is to keep these as permanent rentals.

"It is up to us as a community, this is our responsibility. We shouldn't be saying it's government or council, it's a combination of all.

"As a community we have to look after our own and we do have the ability to do it.”

Christopher John of Noosa-based community support group United Synergies said the Sunshine Coast region one of the lowest community stock ratios in Australia.

And those who are able to rent are doing it tough with the Gold Coast, Cairns and the Sunshine Coast the top three regions for rental stress.

He said a challenge for his group was to find long-term properties that are available to provide clients with affordable housing.

"We've got 18 properties that we lease across the area to provide support for those young people,” he said

Mr John said United Synergies also is funded by the Government to provide financial support to young people living in private rentals.

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