LOCKED OUT: Low rental vacancy leaves vulnerable at risk
MANY of the region's most vulnerable people have been locked out of housing as low rental availability means demand for help is climbing.
Rental availability in the Whitsunday housing sector has reached historic lows.
Ray White Whitsunday principal Mark Beale said the vacancy rate was well below 1 per cent, which was the lowest he had seen in 20 years.
Taylors Property Specialist also reported rental vacancy rates of less than 1 per cent while rents had increased by 10 per cent because of sustained demand over the past three months.
While low rental vacancy rates may spell good news for owners, other members of the community are turning to social housing for help.
Whitsunday Housing Company chief operating officer Joanne Moynihan said she had noticed an increase in applications for assistance over the past few months.
Whitsunday Housing Company is a not-for-profit company that manages emergency, transitional and long-term social housing throughout the whole Whitsunday region.
The organisation assists mainly vulnerable people in the community, including those with low incomes and the elderly.
Ms Moynihan said the lack of housing could leave many of these people homeless.
"People are struggling, and I think the rents are on the increase as well," she said.
"We're getting a lot of people calling in and walking in with applications for housing.
"Bowen in particular is a big one, there's a lot of people in Bowen becoming desperate due to housing and we find a lot of the older generation … the single older people are struggling to find somewhere to live."
With an increase in applications, Ms Moynihan said the company was struggling to meet the demand for housing.
"We need more social housing in the area, we need the government to come on board and provide more social housing," she said.
"It does affect people's mental health if they're worried about where they're going to live."
Beyond government intervention, Ms Moynihan urged landlords to give applicants a chance, saying she had seen cases where applicants were knocked back because they were a single mother.
She said there had also been cases where tenants were evicted from their homes only to see the same property readvertised at a higher rental price.
"With rents on the increase, that's having an impact on low-income families," she said.
Mr Beale said the low vacancy rates could also become more of an issue as people move to the region.
"This is a big issue and the area needs more rental homes," he said.
"If there is a big development starting to get built and the typical influx of trades need to come to town, they will not be able to find anything and this has the potential to stall development in the region."