Hundreds of teenagers on the Gold Coast are in need of housing assistance amid skyrocketing rental prices and only seven emergency beds available, a welfare group has warned.

Mission Australia says the situation could get worse without an increase in federal rent assistance programs and the expansion of social housing.

“They’re either surfing the couch or just don’t live in a stable, secure living environment and it’s really because of the affordability,” said Darren Stockman, Gold Coast program director.

“What we are seeing is that a lot of young people are at risk of leaving school prematurely to find a job because they feel really stressed and under pressure to help mom, dad or caregivers with the financial needs of the family. . “

According to SQM data, the median rent on the Gold Coast has increased 19% in the past 12 months and vacancy rates are below 1%.

With the booming housing market not expected to slow anytime soon, some fear that some young people may fall through the cracks of an already strained system.

“You would walk past them”

In years 11 and 12, Sam Doran was forced to leave the house.

Demand for cheaper units peaked in eight years on the Gold Coast.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

“There are a lot of misconceptions about roaming and how it happens – roaming can just be couch surfing,” he said.

After securing independent accommodation with the help of Mr. Stockman, Mr. Doran discovered that financial management “had become a big problem”.

He therefore accepted a job in the fast food restaurant and applied for the youth allowance with the help of the local support service.

cart in the street
Homelessness is often seen as being limited to people living on the streets.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

“People generally thrive when they are in a stable environment and housing is one of the most important things,” he said.

Mr Doran, who studies engineering at Griffith University, said graduating from high school was “the bigger deal.”

“I would be one of the lucky ones, but I don’t think it’s as rare as people think,” he said.

Seven crisis beds on the Gold Coast

Mr Stockman says one of the main issues facing young people in Mr Doran’s predicament may be the immediate need for housing.

“They don’t have a rental history, they may have barriers to getting those requests in – it’s quite difficult for young people.”

He said that “on the Gold Coast alone you are definitely looking at the hundreds” of young people in need of support.

“I believe there are seven crisis beds [for teenagers] on the Gold Coast and half a dozen places of transition.

Mr Stockman said efforts to reach young people had intensified over the past 12 months as competition in the housing market increased.

Sold sign outside a house.
Real estate prices on the Gold Coast have risen after interstate buyers flooded the market.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

“The problem is young independents – 16, 17, 18 [years old] – they are at the bottom of the priority list and we know there is a very long waiting list for social housing, “he said.

“There is a need to focus more on early intervention and identify the warning signs for young people and their families before homelessness becomes an imminent risk.”

In Queensland, there were 27,933 applications for social housing in June, for 50,301 people.

Opening of the youth center

This month, the state government opened a $ 12.3 million youth hostel on the Gold Coast and also committed $ 2.9 million to build 7,400 new social and affordable housing units over four years. .

Leeanne Enoch in a hi-vis vest and helmet with a Queensland government stamp on it
Leeanne Enoch says 7,400 new social and affordable homes will be built over the next four years.(ABC News: Stephen Cavanagh)

Communities and Housing Minister Leeanne Enoch said the home contained 40 apartments, common areas and dedicated staff for people aged 16 to 25.

“This facility is for young people who are at risk of becoming homeless but who are also committed to academic achievement or their job,” she said.

Ms Enoch said the unexpected rise in the Queensland property market had created additional tension.

“This time last year and just before that we were told because of COVID every analyst was telling us that there was going to be a glut in the market, that we would see the opposite of what we have now,” she declared. .

Call for more income support

Ms Enoch said about 1,000 Gold Coast households have received assistance through the National Rental Affordability Scheme, which the federal government plans to phase out after external reviews found the program to be flawed and “in plagued by administrative problems “.

construction site at sunset
Construction is strong on the Gold Coast, but demand for housing has exceeded supply.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

The federal government has committed $ 8.2 billion for housing and homelessness in 2020-21.

Anti-Poverty Week executive director Toni Wren said federal social security payments, especially Commonwealth rent assistance, are insufficient.

“A raise [is needed] in the basic rate of income support for the unemployed and other low payments to reach at least the poverty line, $ 457 per week. “

A spokeswoman for Federal Family and Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said the government was focusing on getting people back into the workforce “because we know the best form of social assistance is a work”.

“Earlier this year, we increased JobSeeker’s rate and related payments by $ 50 per fortnight – the biggest increase in over 30 years,” the spokesperson said.

“This added to the fact that we provided $ 32 billion in emergency support payments to income support recipients during the height of the pandemic.”

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