• Queensland Housing Minister Mick de Brenni (PropertyObserver)
More than a hundred Indigenous tenants could be left homeless after being told to vacate their Toowoomba homes.
By
Ella Archibald-Binge

22 Jan 2019 - 2:02 PM  UPDATED 22 Jan 2019 - 2:02 PM

​There are calls for the Queensland government to intervene to stop the mass eviction of Indigenous residents from 37 former social housing homes.

The properties are owned by private company Downs Housing, but due to alleged financial mismanagement which saw mortgages go unpaid, the homes will be auctioned on February 2.

Residents were last month told to vacate by May, leaving them with few options.

"The families are broken," said Patricia Conlon, a Wakka Wakka Traditional Owner of the Darling Downs region who has been advocating for the tenants.

"I spoke to about 20 tenants last Thursday and they were all just in tears. They’re distraught, don’t know who to turn to, or what to do."

Queensland Greens MP Michael Berkman has called on the state government to purchase the properties and convert them back to social housing.

"There is no room for delay, these people need urgent attention and they need the state to step in and buy these properties as social housing stock so they’re not left without somewhere safe to live," he told NITV News.

Residents met with state government officials and Indigenous Business Australia on Thursday in a bid to find alternative living arrangements.

But Mr Berkman said the options presented - such as applying for a home loan, entering the private rental market or joining thousands of others on the social housing waiting list - were unviable given the short timeframe. 

"There’s a risk that we’ll see, quite literally, hundreds of Indigenous people in Toowoomba left without somewhere safe to live," he said.

Queensland Housing Minister Mick de Brenni said the government would do "everything in our power" to support affected tenants, but said buying the houses wasn't the solution. 

"Rushing to purchase these properties and establish a welfare arrangement for people living independently in the private housing market is certainly not the right move and doesn’t take into account the individual needs of families," he told NITV News in a statement.

"I’ve asked my department to work with every affected household to identify their options and coordinate a response across any necessary support organisations through the newly established state of the art Toowoomba Housing Hub."

Mr de Brenni said those in need of support should contact the Toowoomba and South West Housing Service Centre on (07) 4699 4400 or the Toowoomba Housing Hub (07) 4699 4440, or visit the hub in person at 10 Russell Street, Toowoomba.

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