• Activist Jasmyn Sheppards leads a chant at Saturday's auction in Toowoomba. (NITV)
Protesters attempted to stop the sale of 37 homes, which could now leave more than a hundred Indigenous tenants at risk of homelessness.
By
Ella Archibald-Binge

2 Feb 2019 - 9:56 PM  UPDATED 2 Feb 2019 - 9:56 PM

Almost a hundred protestors have rallied at an auction in Toowoomba to prevent the sale of 37 formerly Aboriginal-owned homes.

The group gathered at the entrance to the auction site, chanting 'hands off the houses' in a bid to disrupt the sale.

NITV News understands the majority of the homes were sold at the auction.

The properties - now worth more than $6 million - were originally owned by the Downs Aborigines and Islanders Company, set up to provide secure housing to the Indigenous community.

But in 2016 ownership was transferred to a private company, Downs Housing, in a deal that has prompted calls for an investigation by Australia's corporate regulator.

The homes went under the hammer after Downs Housing defaulted on the mortgages, leaving more than a hundred vulnerable Indigenous tenants at risk of homelessness.

Paul Waters has lived in his home for 17 years. 

He told NITV News the situation was "devastating".

"We pay rent like any other person, we didn’t expect this," said Mr Waters, who quit his job to care for his wife following her stroke.

"My wife’s shattered. It’s not right – we don’t know what’s gonna happen, just got to hope and see."

Queensland Greens MP Michael Berkman described the situation as "another chapter in a long history of dispossession".

Both the state and federal government have resisted calls to buy the homes and convert them to social housing.

NITV News understands the tenants are now exploring their legal options. 

MORE ON THIS:
'Here's your legacy item': Scullion urged to intervene to stop mass eviction of Indigenous tenants
More than a hundred Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at risk of being forcibly evicted from their homes.
Indigenous tenants face uncertain future as houses go to auction
More than a hundred Indigenous tenants in south east Queensland could be left homeless after being told to vacate former social housing homes.
Hundreds of 'distraught' Indigenous tenants face mass eviction in QLD
More than a hundred Indigenous tenants could be left homeless after being told to vacate their Toowoomba homes.