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3 June, 2021

Crisis Housing Solution

LAST week, Cairns Local News reported on the growing rental accommodation crisis here in Cairns. Vanessa Glennon and her son had struggled to find suitable accommodation, unsuccessfully applying for dozens of properties, before securing a suitable property after couch surfing for a number of weeks and also paying the full rent for her new tenancy upfront.

By Peter McCullagh

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This story is not unusual in the tightening Cairns rental market. The Facebook groups are buzzing with posts and discussion from locals seeking suitable accommodation.

For Taka Kasahara, local businessman and owner of Sun Pacific College in Kewarra Beach, this story hit home. Mr Kasahara owns and runs a foreign student language school at Kewarra Beach with dormitory style accommodation for several hundred students.

COVID and travel restrictions have impacted heavily upon Sun Pacific College with less than twenty per cent occupancy with his live-in accommodation.

Mr Kasahara has contacted Cairns Local News with a generous offer to provide short-term, affordable crisis accommodation for families here in Cairns.

“We can help 10 – 15 families out. We have modern, clean dormitory accommodation available with 4 bed or 6 bedrooms available.

“We can offer accommodation for a term of two weeks and would like potential visitors to commit to two weeks – obviously depending on their needs we can discuss extensions to this with them.

“With COVID impacting upon our foreign student numbers we can provide this affordable accommodation to help ease the rental crisis in our community.”

The rooms are set up for students or small families. They are fully air conditioned with individual study areas plus a small fridge. They are comfortable and perfect for a family for two weeks until they can secure more suited accommodation.

“This would be far better than couch surfing,” Mr Kasahara said. “Our facility also includes a shared recreation room, basketball and tennis courts and a dining area where we employ international chefs preparing meals every day.”

Sun Pacific College has also opened their Kitchen Hub to the public Monday to Friday for an extremely well-priced All You Can Eat dinner; details can be found on their Facebook page.

With tutors already on staff residents can also access their Tutor-Hub, school tutoring service.

With current rental vacancies at an all-time low, many families are forced to couch surf as they apply with properties. Many rental properties are attracting dozens of applications.

St Vincent de Paul are reporting a tightening rental market in Far North Queensland, with a vacancy rate of just 0.3% last month.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul’s Far North Queensland President Veronica Innes is seeing firsthand the effect this rental crisis is having upon families.

“People are struggling to afford the current rental prices, and combined with a lack of low-cost affordable housing, we have a real issue.

“We are now being called upon to help many people who previously were the ones helping others, now they need the assistance.

“We do need more affordable housing, currently some households are spending up to 50 percent of their household income on rent. We are being asked to assist people with rent, food, utility bills or medication costs, financially people are struggling,” Ms Innes said.

Families in need of temporary accommodation assistance can contact Sun Pacific College to speak to Braden Smith. The offer is available to assist with short-term accommodation for families in Cairns.

To find out more contact Sun Pacific College on 4057 2100 during office hours, 11am – 5pm Monday to Friday.

 


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