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Where should we be building public and genuinely affordable housing here in Griffith?

As you might have seen, there’s a fair bit of nonsense floating around online at the moment saying that I don’t support building public and affordable housing here in my electorate. Many Labor MPs are going so far as to say I have “blocked” housing here in Griffith. To be crystal clear: these are straight up lies endeavouring to distract from Labor’s incredibly weak response to the growing housing crisis, and the pressure they’re feeling from the Greens to do more. The idea that I would even have the power to “block” housing is quite hilarious. 

In reality, I have been actively fighting against the sale of public housing in Griffith (where the State Government has sold 44 homes in recent years), and alongside my fellow Greens reps in the Gabba and South Brisbane, we have been actively campaigning for the government to invest in public and affordable housing all across the south side, including most notably in the PDA areas at the new cross river rail sites in Woolloongabba and Dutton Park. Last month I wrote a letter of support for a social housing development in Woolloongabba, which you can read here. 

I’m going to be contacting the Queensland Planning Minister suggesting a heap of sites they should investigate the viability of for building public and genuinely affordable housing here in Griffith. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these options. Obviously they’d all be subject to further feasibility assessments and planning approval processes. As a general principle we’ve mostly  focused on sites that are already close to high frequency public transport, public parkland and zoned for medium or high density. 

Here are some of the more obvious options, but I’d love to know your suggestions or feedback (please email me with your thoughts):

  • 42 Logan Road / 7-11 Trafalgar Street Woolloongabba QLD 4102 (large site currently for sale, zoned mixed use right next to the cross river rail site)
  • 61 Hawthorne Street Woolloongabba - owned by the Department of Transport, currently unused 
  • The Dutton Park/Boggo Road Cross River Rail site
  • The Woolloongabba Cross River Rail site where the State government has been evasive about their previous election commitment to build affordable housing. 
  • On the grounds of the recently closed Griffith Uni Campus in Mt Gravatt (just outside of the Griffith electorate)
  • The vacant site above the Eastern busway on Laura St in Stones Corner right near our office
  • Abandoned sites in Kangaroo Point (356, 352, 362 Vulture St)
  • 10 Loch St in West End which is for sale in West End, and where the owner specifically wanted to sell it to be used for public housing
  • The site of the old Boundary St police station, for a mixed community centre/housing redevelopment
  • On the portion of the Bulimba Barracks site on the flood resilient land, outside of the existing flood map 
  • Colmslie Precinct that BCC is currently consulting on the future of the development site
  • Corner of Brereton St & Boundary St (abandoned motel, would be ideal for urgently needed crisis housing)

The Greens are also fighting for the government to mass build public housing that is beautifully designed, energy efficient and accessible. Ideally, we’d also like to see more mixed and and affordable housing options, like what’s being done at the upcoming social housing development on Carl St in Woolloongabba, where about half of the homes are set aside for people on the public housing waitlist, and the other half are at below-market rent local essential workers.

There are many more hundreds of sites across Griffith which are outside the flood zone, and currently zoned as either High Density Residential, Mixed Use (residential above commercial), District Centre, Medium Density Residential or Low/Medium Residential (2 or 3 storey mix). Those sites are generally near existing public transport, shops and parks, and many still have older detached houses rather than flats or townhouses. They exist in every suburb, including Cannon Hill, Carina, Morningside, Norman Park, Balmoral, Hawthorne, Bulimba, Coorparoo, Carina Heights, Holland Park, Greenslopes, East Brisbane, Woolloongabba and West End. 

And any of these locations currently set aside for high end private developments - which to be clear, the QLD Planning Minister could either compulsorily acquire or require that a portion of these developments be provided as social and genuinely affordable housing and contribute more towards local public infrastructure:

  • 91 Lytton Road, Bulimba 
  • 25 Browning St, South Brisbane
  • Gillingham St / O’Keefe St at Buranda (the Wee Hur site) next to the Buranda train station, where the developer is refusing to pay for an essential upgrade to the dangerous roundabout
  • 12 Edmondstone St, South Brisbane
  • 56-58 Manning St, South Brisbane

There is no policy or technical reason why the Government couldn’t invest billions of dollars right now in a mass build of public and genuinely affordable housing or use incentives to coordinate a freeze on rent increases. With a declining private construction industry beginning to free up construction materials and labour, and a budget surplus, all happening in the middle of the worst housing crisis in generations, this is the time to act. If we can’t force the government to act now, then we never will. 

The only barrier is politics and a political establishment who are more concerned with the profits of the property developers and banks who ultimately benefit from our broken housing system, than they are about the hundreds of thousands of people sleeping in their cars and tents right now or one rent increase away from eviction.

So we’ve made it clear that we can’t support the government’s HAFF Bill until they come back to us with a real plan that actually starts to solve the rental and housing crises, by guaranteeing billions of dollars of direct investment in public and genuinely affordable housing every year and working with the states to freeze rent increases nationwide. 

As it stands Labor’s plan gambles $10 billion on the stock market and doesn’t guarantee a cent in funding for housing or do anything for renters. Even in the best case scenario, it will see more people waiting for public housing, more people struggling to pay the rent, more people homeless and more people being evicted.

As we’ve said for months, we want to negotiate with the government to start a plan that will actually start to tackle the scale of the crisis. Right now, the government has said they’re more interested in letting their bill fail, than they are in investing in more housing and helping renters. 

Queensland is set to lose almost 6,000 federally funded affordable homes as the National Rental Affordability Scheme ends. With the Federal government providing no viable option for what is to happen for folks living in these properties, we’d also suggest that the State government could be purchasing these homes outright and ensure that these affordable homes stay in public ownership long-term. They could start with the 195 affordable homes right here in Griffith which go back to the private rental market by the end of 2025. Those 195 families are very likely to be kicked out when rents rise, starting next year. 

The Queensland State Government should also rapidly overhaul state planning mechanisms to implement a vacancy levy on empty homes, and to  include inclusionary zoning so that all new multi-residential developments (like high end apartments close to public transport) include a portion (the Greens have suggested at least 25%) of public housing. By setting aside a quarter of new apartment developments we can provide good quality homes, not just for the most vulnerable Queenslanders waiting for decades on the public housing waitlist, but for the teachers, nurses, hospitality and retail workers who can’t afford to live close to their workplaces.

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