Families struggle as cost of living soars in Gladstone
LOCAL charities say they've had to step up support for struggling families, as the cost of living continues to skyrocket in Gladstone.
St Vincent de Paul Gladstone president Tom Barry said his organisation distributed supermarket vouchers to those in need, and amounts had increased by about 10%.
"In some cases, we've had to double the amount we would usually give, to meet extreme need," he said.
Up to 35 families a week are seeking help from the organisation.
"Last year we gave $85,000 in vouchers; we'll do more than that this year," Mr Barry said.
He said demand had been growing for the past five years.
"Initially we had a lot of people come to see us regularly, but then they got priced out of the market and we assume they had to leave town," he said.
"Now we're especially seeing mothers. When their child turns seven, they lose parenting payments and go onto Newstart, and that's quite a dramatic drop in income."
We've always got people coming in and inquiring, but demand is simply too much for us to meet.
While rent is the biggest cost pressure for families in Gladstone, Mr Barry said the cost of living generally was an issue.
"I know, myself, just going to the supermarket, it does add up - a dollar doesn't buy as much as it used to."
Finding help with accommodation in Gladstone is also a battle.
Colleen Tribe, general manager of Roseberry Community Services, said her organisation's 85 properties were full.
"We've always got people coming in and inquiring, but demand is simply too much for us to meet," Ms Tribe said.
"And vacancies do not come up very often." Ms Tribe said Roseberry gets a dozen accommodation queries a week, and recently she's seen people sleeping rough when they can't pay rent.
High rents hit low incomes
LOW-INCOME earners in Gladstone are still being priced out of the booming property market, prompting calls for better support.
The Anglicare Australia Rental Affordability Snapshot highlights the desperate situation faced by many in central Queensland - and highlights Gladstone as the worst in the state.
You can be earning a wage and still be priced out of the market!
It found Gladstone rent on average was $155 a week more expensive than Brisbane.
Across the region, just 15% of advertised rental properties were deemed affordable for two people earning a minimum wage with two children.
Anglicare Gladstone housing co-ordinator Val Radloff said her service had 59 properties available for people struggling to afford private rental.
Currently they're full, with 145 occupants, including 49 children.
While the service mostly assists people on Centrelink benefits, Ms Radloff said low-income earners were also hard hit.
"You can be earning a wage and still be priced out of the market!" she said.
Ms Radloff said the service currently gets at least 10 applications for assistance a week, and that's been a constant since 2011.
"We've seen a change in the types of households we accommodate - people have perhaps lost their jobs, sometimes their relationship breaks down," Ms Radloff said.
Anglicare Central Queensland CEO Suzie Christensen said governments needed to create more subsidised social housing, and widen the Commonwealth Rent Assistance program.