Government drops house sharing plan

Public housing tenants will not have to share their homes with other people.

Housing Minister Dr Bruce Flegg said today a survey of tenants showed overwhelming opposition to the scheme, which had been proposed in the face of an accommodation crisis.

Dr Flegg said 10,500 tenants responded to the survey and were unanimous in their disapproval of house sharing.

“We have listened to that feedback and will not be proceeding with a system of house sharing unless that is initiated by a specific request by a specific tenant,” Dr Flegg said at Parliament House today.

The minister said a lack of public housing availability meant only 2000 families would be accommodated within the public housing sector in the coming year, despite 30,000 applications on the waiting list

“So in essence to get into a government managed public house in Queensland you have to wait for someone to die and that is not an acceptable situation,” Dr Flegg said.

About 6500 tenants surveyed responded favourably to “downsizing” to more suitable accommodation.

“That’s an enormous endorsement and understanding by public housing tenants of how significant this issue is,” he said.

Current estimates indicated more than 8700 public housing properties had two or more additional bedrooms than required by the occupants.

Another option was rent rises – while not as popular as downsizing, rent rises were still significantly preferred to house sharing.

Dr Flegg said hundreds of people had already taken advantage of a six-week amnesty to declare undisclosed tenants.

He said in general this seemed to have been boyfriends and partners but there were cases where singles, living in four-bedroom houses were renting out rooms.

“We’ve uncovered people who are housing workers from the mines that live in housing commission houses when they are in town in Brisbane,” Dr Flegg said.

The amnesty ends on the 27 July.

The Opposition has attacked the Government, arguing their proposed reforms have created a climate of fear, particularly among the elderly.

Dr Flegg expected announcements to be made regarding single person accommodation transfers within six to eight weeks.

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