Last week the Western Queensland Alliance of Councils launched its Housing Solutions Study at its WQAC Housing Forum.
The first region-wide Housing Market Study covering 60% of the state, reveals the region's chronic shortage of housing - a major roadblock to community, employment and business growth that is set to worsen.
The WQAC commissioned the Regional Australia Institute to develop the WQAC Housing Solutions Study to understand and quantify issues with housing throughout the region, and identify solutions.
The report found Western Queensland has experienced chronic and severe underinvestment in housing for many years which has led to a situation where a lack of housing is constraining population, employment and business growth.
This lack of housing must be remedied for the region to prosper, particularly over the next few years as future investment opportunities are realised, the report said.
There are jobs going unfilled in Western Queensland simply due to a lack of suitable housing. In June 2021 there were over 500 jobs advertised in the Outback Queensland Region with half of these jobs for professional and skilled tradespeople.
WQAC says renewed investment in housing in the region will provide much-needed housing for people to fill these vacant jobs.
More housing would also enable local private enterprise to realise opportunities and create new jobs currently hamstrung by constrained access to labour,
They found Western Queensland towns have characteristics that conspire against new home building and renovating with small populations, remote locations and housing stock low in value relative to average building costs.
They propose three changes: 1. WQAC to establish an unlisted residential property fund, an investment vehicle to attract large-scale equity investment into housing in the region. 2. State Government to renew government employee housing by re-investing in a Build-Own-Operate-Transfer development of new dwellings and 3. Federal Government to introduce a Regional New Home Guarantee in locations where sales prices are significantly lower than average build costs.
The WQAC say these solutions aim to address the key barriers of constrained access to finance as well as the issue of scale.
Let's hope governments get behind the initiatives, which are long overdue.