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Sunshine Coast families splitting up to keep children safe amid housing crisis

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Homeless Sunshine Coast families are being forced to split up, with some parents choosing to sleep in their cars while their children stay elsewhere to keep them safe.

That’s the confronting reality for many families as they navigate the unrelenting housing and rental crisis.

Siblings are also being split up into different homes to keep them housed as housing and homelessness services reveal the heartbreaking choices they are forced to make.

Kyabra Community Association, which works across the Sunshine Coast, says their organisation is seeing “more families split up” to prioritise their children’s safety.

“Mum and dad might be sleeping in their car while their children stay with family or friends just to make sure that the children have a roof over their head,”Kyabra Community Association team manager Shirley Gration-Collins says.

“We will have about 60 people on our books and when a house comes up, we have to choose between a family sleeping on a veranda – where it is cold – or a family in a tent or a family in a car – we have to decide who needs that house more.

“I had one man come to us last week and say, ‘You are going to tell me what everyone else is telling me at the moment, aren’t you? You don’t have anything for me, do you?’ and the answer was, ‘Yes, I am really sorry, we don’t right now’, and that is distressing.”

QCOSS CEO Aimee McVeigh says these stories are devastating and more investment is needed.

“There are Queensland women and children right now living in cars, tents and motels because there is nowhere else to go. There are elderly people couch surfing. There are children growing up in domestic violence shelters because there is nowhere else to go,” she says.

“These Queenslanders cannot keep waiting for the wheels of Government to turn to find a safe home to live in.”

In April, a QCOSS analysis of government data showed across Queensland, there were 27,933 applications, and more than 8000 of those applications are families with children, while 90 per cent are single-parent households.

On the Sunshine Coast, there were 1940 applications accounting for 3281 people.

Of those, 512 applications were from people with children and 474 are single parents.

The average wait time to find social housing on the Sunshine Coast was an unacceptable two and a half years.