Surging demand for social housing as homelessness soars

Laine Clark |

Queensland’s peak social service body warns more housing is needed with homelessness on the rise.
Queensland’s peak social service body warns more housing is needed with homelessness on the rise.

Homelessness is on the rise in Queensland with requests for housing assistance soaring, a peak body warns.

Queensland Council of Social Service says the state’s housing crisis is getting worse according to the latest figures.

As experts gathered in Brisbane on Tuesday for the National Housing Conference, the council said 16,528 people sought help from Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) in Queensland in May – the highest monthly figure since July 2017. 

QCOSS said over the past six years, monthly requests for SHS help from people at risk of homelessness or without a home had jumped about 55 per cent in Queensland according to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare figures.

The council’s chief executive Aimee McVeigh said despite everything that governments were doing on accommodation shortages, it wasn’t enough.

“Requests for help with homelessness and housing just continues to rise in Queensland,” she said.

“Over one year alone, from May 2022 to May 2023, there has been about a 20 per cent increase in people requesting help from Specialist Homelessness Services in Queensland – this is a housing crisis that is getting worse.”

The Queensland government is under pressure due to a surging demand for social housing amid a cost of living crisis.

More than $320 million to build another 500 social homes was unveiled in the Queensland budget in June.

The new funding builds on $3.9 billion for social and affordable housing that was set to help deliver 13,000 homes.

There was also a $64 million funding increase for emergency housing in inner Brisbane and a $10 million pledge to turn the Pinkenba quarantine facility into emergency accommodation.

Housing Minister Meaghan Scanlon faced intense questioning at a parliamentary budget hearing in August with more than 41,400 people from 25,364 households and 7050 families on a waiting list for social housing.

Ms McVeigh said governments needed to deliver housing rather than simply promises.

“We still have domestic violence victims, families, and elderly Queenslanders sleeping in cars, parks, tents and on couches, because there’s nowhere else to go,” she said.

“We need more houses built more quickly … we need to see a plan and a sense of urgency that matches the crisis before us.”