REVEALED: The extent of Gladstone’s public housing shortage
YOUNG Gladstone families and homeless singles are sleeping in cars as they wait for properties to become available to them.
Data provided to The Observer from the Department of Housing and Public Works shows that as at September 30, there were 311 applicants awaiting a home.
A department spokesman said in Gladstone there were just six unoccupied dwellings, which were undergoing maintenance, and a commitment to construct 25 new dwellings by the end of 2020-21 in Central Queensland.
However for the remaining applicants, it's a waiting game based off need that will determine if their next night is in a car, on a couch, or with a proper roof over their head.
Roseberry Qld Gladstone general manager Colleen Tribe said even when houses did become available, it was difficult to determine who was of higher need.
"We have families who don't have permanent housing or a single person sleeping in a car," she said.
"Which one is higher up on the list - a family or a single person living in a car?
"It's a very daunting prospect to be able to offer one a house and not the other when both are in need."
A department spokesman said allocations from a housing register were determined by the individual needs of applicants, taking into account personal circumstances, wellbeing and financial status, as well as their ability to independently sustain a tenancy.
"Generally speaking, the department prioritises applicants with the highest needs accommodation, such as those who are or at risk of becoming homeless, and victims of family or domestic violence," he said.
Ms Tribe said the effects of COVID-19 had exacerbated the needs of people in the Gladstone region, however the Job Keeper scheme had helped some stay afloat.
"As that phases out we'll see more and more people struggling," Ms Tribe said.
"Whether you have to choose to put a roof over your head or feed your family, something's got to give."
Ms Tribe said the housing shortage for the state's most vulnerable needed to be addressed.
"It needed to be addressed a little while ago," she said.
"I know housing providers have been calling for many years.
"It took a pandemic to really show how vulnerable a lot of people were."