Hervey Bay's Centrelink office.
Hervey Bay's Centrelink office. Cody Fox

EDITORIAL: Watch housing fix doesn’t create bigger problem

WE'VE been trained to think growth is always a good thing.

Right now however, the soaring statistics that put the Coast ahead of much of regional Australia aren't to be envied.

Highest unemployment rates in the state? Tick.

One of the tightest rental markets in the country? Come on down (or don't … please don't).

While the latter is a positive for investors, the combination of low incomes and a lack of housing is a recipe for crime and bad development decisions.

The future of the Fraser Coast will be shaped by the decisions made in the coming months.

Recently, 144 people went through the Hervey Bay courthouse in just one Thursday morning.

We have enough of a problem already.

Approving wall to wall low-cost housing on blocks which are less than 300 sqm in response to the rental crisis will only attract more welfare-dependent families to the area.

Job-creating construction projects might sound appealing but creating mini cities of disadvantage is not advantageous to the rest of the population in the long run.

The best thing that could happen to address the housing shortage right now is to not only encourage responsible housing developments but to address the lack of existing stock on the market.

While there is no shortage of buyers, many sellers are gun shy and believe they won't get the right price during a crisis even though local stats suggest the opposite.

Prohibitive rates also continue to put otherwise keen investors off.

It is also clear that even if hundreds of jobs materialised tomorrow, there is simply not enough to go around (or enough people prepared to do menial work).

Both scenarios should result in some having to make the unfortunate decision to move to where the jobs are.

Yes, we'd also love for more of our high school graduates to have education and employment opportunities which allow them to stay here and there's some great steps being taken in this space but we're not where we need to be yet for us to encourage that path with gusto.

Many of us, including this editor, moved away, upskilled and came back to settle down and invest in our hometown.

We need to press pause and think now about what we can do to address the challenges we already face before we create more.

If we want the Fraser Coast to flourish, we've got a lot of weeding and seed planting to do before we keep watering the population garden.