By LEE McIVORlmcivor@gladstoneobserver.dyndns.org
THE demand for public housing in Gladstone is at crisis point.
Minister for Housing Robert Schwarten said the waiting list for Gladstone had reached 600.
'The dramatic increase in housing costs as a result of the property boom has led to a significant increase in demand for affordable housing,' Mr Schwarten said.
'Low income earners are being squeezed out of the private rental market as rental assistance fails to keep pace with the market rents.'
Mr Schwarten said the federal government had refused to increase commonwealth rent assistance payments so they could keep up with private rent hikes.
"What we are seeing is people eligible for comm- onwealth rent assistance putting their hands up for state public housing.
'This ballooning demand has placed enormous pressure on the state's public housing waiting lists.'
Mr Schwarten said new policies would be implemented this year to ensure the department was using its resources to help those in greatest need.
'These changes include having one register of need to replace the existing waiting lists and stop duplication,' the Minister said.
'As well, a common process will be used to match clients with the housing assistance that best meets their needs,' he said.
'There will be consistent eligibility criteria across the social housing system as well the introduction of stricter assets tests.'
Mr Schwarten said the new single housing system would ensure publicly funded housing would go to those who needed it most.