Breaking Ground

Progress update and assessment of Queensland's housing crisis

Report overview

This is a ‘one year on’ progress report of the 2023 landmark report, A Blueprint for tackling Queensland’s housing crisis. It was the first of its kind in Australia to outline a comprehensive, evidence-based reform package to tackle the housing crisis at a state level.

This new report aims to document and evaluate recent measures enacted by the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth Government that relate to the earlier recommendations of:

  • Have a plan
  • Build more houses
  • Make renting affordable and more secure
  • Make homes more affordable

The report was written by Professor Hal Pawson and the UNSW City Future Research Centre team and was commissioned by QCOSS and the Town of Nowhere Partners.

Queensland’s housing crisis is not abating.

  • Demand for homelessness services in Queensland has grown by 34% in five years (compared with 9% nationally).

  • House prices continued to inflate.

  • The number of people seeking specialist homelessness services (SHS) in Queensland rose at rates well above those seen elsewhere in Australia.

  • Queensland’s strikingly rapid population growth is an overarching factor placing stress on the entire Queensland housing system.

  • Older persons (people aged 55+) have recently formed the most rapidly expanding age of SHS users.

  • 150,000 households in Queensland continue to have an unmet need for affordable housing.

Although the crisis is continuing, recent housing policy development is a remarkably positive story

The state government has broken ground by committing to a nation-leading housing plan.

The plan makes Queensland the country’s leading jurisdiction in regard to long-term, evidence-informed social housing investment planning.

The plan will only start to make a significant difference in the coming years if it is properly implemented and if there is commitment to execute it in the long term.

The combined effect of social housing investment newly pledged by both levels of government may be sufficient to not merely halt, but to actually reverse the sector’s proportionate decline of social housing in the second half of the 2020s.

The standout policy is the social housing construction target to add 53,500 units to the state portfolio by 2046; that is a 73% increase in social housing stock.

  • It could make a significant difference in the coming years if properly implemented.
  • It is the first since 1945 that a government has developed a social housing program scaled according to assessed need.
  • This commitment to an evidence-informed strategic approach sets a new standard for other Australian governments.

If achieved, the policy would be sufficient to markedly reverse the historic decline. It would expand social housing above 4% of total housing.

  • The government’s medium-term objective of expanding current output to 2,000 units annually for the first 4 years must be underpinned by committed (or reasonably expected) government expenditure and (housebuilding) contracts.
  • Therefore, the sustainment of projected output levels beyond the short-to-medium term are depended on bi-partisan political support.

Another significant initiative announced in the Homes for Queenslanders plan is a commitment to develop ‘a supportive housing policy and framework’ to guide investment into the future’. Several key stakeholders listed a permanent supportive housing (PSH) policy as amongst the most pressing reforms needed to address long-term homelessness.

More to do for the third of Queenslanders who rent

Rent prices rose faster in Queensland than any other state or territory.

  • This was largely due to abnormally low levels of tenancy turnover and low vacancy rates.
  • From the start of the coronavirus-19 pandemic to December 2023, median advertised rents in Brisbane climbed 49%, compared with only 42% for the capital cities, collectively.
  • Regional Queensland had the highest non-metropolitan rents relative to incomes of any state.
    • Rent inflation has been particularly marked in certain regional markets (especially – among the larger councils – in Gladstone (110% increase, Rockhampton (69%) and Mackay (67%)).

State-wide, the number of private tenancies affordable to low-income households reduced by well over half from 26% to 10% since 2017. In regional Queensland, it fell from 36% to 14% since 2017.

Rent inflation has outpaced overall inflation since the start of 2023. If prolonged this will further increase rental stress rates, particularly among the second bottom quintile of households by income, which is more dominated by wage earners.

Further tenancy law reforms to strengthen tenants’ rights were announced in the Homes for Queenslanders plan in February 2024.

Overall, the stage two reforms envisage a range of small but worthwhile enhancements to tenants’ rights. However, as highlighted by NGO stakeholders, their potential impact is somewhat overshadowed by the fact that the two most pressing concerns – unregulated rent increases and no-fault evictions – remain to be adequately addressed.

2023 Report:

A blueprint to tackle
Queensland’s housing crisis

This study was written by national housing expert, Professor Hal Pawson, and UNSW colleagues.  It was commissioned by the Town of Nowhere campaign and supported financially by Tenants Queensland and The Services Union.

Download the full report

There are around 150,000 households across Queensland with unmet housing needs. This includes 100,000 households who would typically be eligible for social housing:

  • These households are either experiencing homelessness, or are low-income households in private rentals, paying more than 30 per cent of household income in rent.
  • This dwarfs the number of households officially registered on the Queensland social housing waiting list – approximately 27,000.
  • The highest incidence of unmet need is in the areas to the south of Brisbane — 10 per cent of all households in Logan, Beaudesert and Gold Coast are homeless or living in housing which is not affordable.

We need to build more social and affordable homes and make renting fairer.