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State’s social housing response 'biggest since WWII' but more needed

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Housing Minister Leeanne Enoch has defended the level of investment amid calls for Queensland to do more to prevent homelessness.

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After Victoria announced a $53 billion social housing blitz, Queensland Council of Social Service CEO Aimee McVeigh called on the Palaszczuk Government to follow suit.

“This is a game-changer which will have wide-reaching benefits – not just in tackling the homelessness crisis, but in creating jobs and driving the economy out of recession,” McVeigh said.

“We’re urging our government to follow the precedent set by Victoria and change thousands of Queenslanders’ lives for the better by committing to a strong foundation in social housing in the upcoming Budget.

“The government must do more to ensure every Queenslander has a roof over their head and has access to safe, secure, and affordable housing.”

The delayed Queensland Budget will be handed down on 1 December and QCOSS has also written to government ministers calling for a $40 million Community Resilience Fund to be part of the response to the pandemic and recession.

While Treasurer Cameron Dick will not speculate on any new budget investments, the ensuing Budget Estimates Committee hearings will see non-government MPs, particularly the Greens, scrutinise the commitment to social housing.

Incoming Greens MP Amy MacMahon today called for a public housing stimulus package, and has joined QCOSS in directly lobbying government ministers on the issue.

“As a renter in a sharehouse, I know what a big issue housing affordability is for the southside, so I’ll be using my new position to fight for more public housing,” said MacMahon, the Member for South Brisbane.

Enoch, recently sworn in as the Minister for Communities and Housing, said Labor had been getting results.

“The Palaszczuk Government has the largest investment into social housing construction since WWII and Queensland is the only eastern seaboard state to have a reduction in the rate of homelessness since 2001,” Enoch said.

“The Queensland Housing Strategy includes $1.6 billion for the successful Housing Construction Jobs Program which will deliver over 5,500 social housing and affordable homes by 2027.

“This program has already exceeded its first three-year target with over 1,949 projects commenced, of which more than a thousand have already been completed.”

Enoch said the $100 million Works for Tradies program announced in June would help maintain the momentum.

“Queensland’s economic recovery in response to COVID 19 means that this program coupled with the Housing Construction Jobs Program will support more than 600 Queensland Jobs this year,” she said.

The Greens have previously criticised the government for favouring private sector rental arrangements rather than boost the homelessness safeguard of social housing.

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