Noosa Council’s Housing Needs Assessment is now complete and adopted by Council and was updated to this meeting. The full assessment can be accessed at https://www.noosa.qld.gov.au/downloads/file/1476/noosa-housing-needs-assessment
This assessment will be used in developing Council’s upcoming draft Housing Strategy, on which they will seek feedback from this group and other housing stakeholders. It was good to see that state recently changed their position on a planning matter to support Noosa Council’s strategy, as well that secondary dwellings have less constraints than previously, so please inquire with Council regarding options.
Requested at the meeting, was a similar housing needs assessment for Noosa to be developed by state government, and this has been sent through to the Department. However as confirmed by community housing provider, Coast2Bay, state government directly addresses social housing needs, for which Noosa does not have a high registered demand in comparison to other areas, not per say ‘affordable housing’ which Noosa has severe shortage of. Whilst state government can provide frameworks including urban footprints and even temporary planning instruments to allow a Council more flexibility, essentially planning matters are determined by local government, including through their input to the SEQ Regional Plan in addition to their own local planning schemes. In areas such as Noosa where land is a premium, the only avenue to retain affordability is through community management, and in which state government plays an important role in both funding headleases and providing construction costs through initiatives such as HIF for community managed properties. The state government’s Housing & Homelessness Action Plan 2021 – 2025 is available at https://www.chde.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0023/17429/QldHousingStrategyActionPlan2021-25.pdf
Another example of how state can assist councils in the provision of accommodations is through the Local Government Grants and Subsidies Program which has just opened for application. Projects that can be considered include economic development projects that contribute to economic growth and employment such as tourism infrastructure, caravan parks and community hubs, providing a good opportunity for councils across SEQ to consider application opportunities for tiny home/cabin villages as part of affordable housing options. A private application currently undergoing planning consideration by Sunshine Coast Council consists of 30 transportable cabins to help address worker accommodation shortages in that region.
Also covered amongst many updates were state government grants such as Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) and Quick Start Grants which are utilised by Councils, community housing providers and private entities to partner to develop housing projects. There are a number of these currently being considered and before Council. As well the Help to Home program which is a similar model to Defence Housing already utilised throughout Australia.
As always, the main issue is suitable land, and over the duration of the search for Council or State parcels, as reported previously, constraints have included native title considerations, ‘upzoning’ and flood impacts in amongst others. Sites that have been reviewed has revealed one parcel suitable which Council is now assessing further. We have again had many requests as to why the former Tewantin TAFE site is not utilised, and as I have reported previously the building itself is non-compliant for even emergency accommodations due to its fire rating, and the surrounding land is covered by biodiversity overlays and koala mapping, which Council nor the community would wish to change.
We have always stated that the housing issue is bigger and more multi-faceted than any one specific level of government can resolve and requires all three working together to resolve. To this end it is extremely disappointing that the federal government will not extend their NRAS program which means that approximately 4000 residents in our region currently under this scheme will need rehousing through other means as their current leases expire. In addition, ‘Assistance with Care & Housing’ (ACH) funding, which specifically supports aged persons facing homelessness, is also undergoing reform, leaving some providers apprehensive about potential impacts to funding they have relied on.
Amongst discussions on how further to address the critical shortage of workers due to the housing crisis, the ‘Work in Paradise’ initiative was discussed, which link workers to available jobs and in some cases employers are offering accommodation packages as a way to combat the housing shortage for prospective new employees. A recent survey by Tourism Noosa uncovered that 3 out of 5 workers who responded, did not have safe accommodation locally. Landlords who would like to assist in making their properties available for those in need, can contact Coast 2 Bay or the Housing Service Centre about head leasing your property through them.
As always, if you or anyone you know is experiencing homelessness, please see emergency contact details as assistance is available.
Our next update will be after the February 2021 meeting.