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Government QLD, Local Government

Local government role in Townsville’s housing supply critical to success

Q Shelter 3 mins read

As early voting opens across Queensland, the state’s leading housing and homelessness peak has revealed the proactive and preventive approaches that local governments can adopt to help remedy Townsville’s unmet housing need and homelessness.


In letters addressed to mayoral and councillor candidates across all 77 of Queensland’s local government areas, Q Shelter outlined the key role the Council can play in solutions to homelessness, planning levers for strategic housing supply, and partnerships with community housing providers.


Q Shelter’s Executive Director, Fiona Caniglia, says Queensland’s housing challenges are well-documented and each tier of government plays a vital and interconnected role in the facilitation of housing supply, diversity, affordability, and future planning.


“Local governments are engaged with people at all points of the housing crisis, from planning processes and supply, local regulations on short-term rentals, or front-line contact with people experiencing homelessness through the management of public spaces and council facilities,” says Ms Caniglia.


“In terms of public attitudes and response to homelessness, they are also key to engagement with the broader community. They often field local concerns about visible homelessness, the welfare of those experiencing homelessness and the community concerns about housing diversity and density.


“In playing such a vital role, we have proposed the consolidation and expansion of Public Space Liaison Officer (PSLO) roles across the local government sector connected to housing, homelessness, health, and other human services.


“We would also like to see the development of an integrated ‘Housing and Homelessness’ strategy to align the work across local government and industry in a place-based framework.”


Data from the Queensland Government statistician’s office gives the following insights for Townsville:

  • Annual growth rate of 0.8% of 10 years, which is lower than the State average of 1.5%.
  • 21.7% of people in the most disadvantaged quintile.
  • 61.6% of social housing applicants were assessed as being in very high need, compared to 56.9% of all state applicants.
  • Higher number of people accessing specialist homelessness services on a typical night (14.6 clients per 10,000 people in Townsville, compared to 7.2 per 10,000 across Queensland).
  • Comparatively lower levels of rental stress, with 34.7% of low income households experiencing rental stress.
  • More than half of low-income households (51.3%) are experiencing mortgage stress.


Ms Caniglia says local government planning schemes and measures are crucial for successfully implementing housing supply strategies, particularly in interpreting population targets into land supply and planning schemes for Queensland.


“Some Councils have adopted progressive planning system reforms, however there are additional levers that will help achieve supply where it is needed and as quickly as possible,” says Ms Caniglia.


“These include fast-tracked approval processes for social and affordable housing projects and ensuring land supply and housing targets are aligned with population projections for the region.

“Councils could also consider further regulating short-term rental accommodation to incentivise the retention of housing in the private rental market.”


Ms Caniglia says in Queensland, local governments display leadership, innovation, and partnerships, particularly with community housing providers, whose expanding role is due to increased funding opportunities from both state and federal governments.


“Local governments could consider discounts on development application fees, infrastructure charges and rates for social and affordable housing projects.


“To effectively address both current and future housing needs, it’s crucial to identify suitable land and sites for affordable housing projects and to adopt targets aligned with those needs and based on recent modelling by AHURI on current and future needs.”

Q Shelter is available for comment on the housing and homelessness solutions that local governments should consider for 2024.

Contact details:

For all media enquiries contact Melinda Burton on 0400 740 067 or

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