Video reveals Aussie city's rental crisis is now at 'disaster levels'

A makeshift tent city continues to grow in the heart of Brisbane.

Disturbing footage of dozens of homeless people living in a “tent city” in the heart of Brisbane has highlighted the “soul crushing” reality of Australia’s rental and cost-of-living crisis.

The video captured by a passing cyclist shows at least 20 tents lining the river path in the city’s West End, with some huddled together under trees to help protect them from Queensland’s notorious summer heat.

The tents lining the Brisbane River during the rental crisis.
At least 20 tents were filmed lining the Brisbane River, highlighting the reality of the city's rental crisis. Source: Reddit

“This is what it looks like along the river path in South Brisbane/West End these days,” the resident posted on social media alongside the shocking clip. “Seems like a safe place to go for people that haven’t been able to get approved for housing. Clearly there is something wrong and real estate greed is becoming more rampant since the pandemic. I hope the housing and rental market improves soon…”

Rental crisis 'growing to disaster levels'

The rental crisis across Australia is “growing to disaster levels”, Norm McGillivray, Founder of Beddown, told Yahoo News Australia on Wednesday. The Ipswich-based group helps provide safe, secure places for those who are sleeping rough.

McGillivray said he has noticed an increase in the homeless population in Brisbane, noting some people “have jobs but can’t get into a rental due to availability and price”. “People sleeping in cars, tents etc…yet we have empty quarantine sites that lie empty!” he lamented.

There are an estimated 122,000 people across the country experiencing homelessness, according to the 2021 Census. Earlier this year, a report by Queensland Council of Social Services (QCOSS) and The Town of Nowhere campaign revealed the number of homeless people in Queensland has jumped 22 per cent in the past five years — almost triple the national increase.

After reviewing the video, Vicki Howard, central ward councillor, told Yahoo it is “heartbreaking people are being forced to sleep in tents, cars and in insecure accomodation as a result of the housing crisis and the State Government’s chronic under-investment in social housing”.

“Tents aren’t a solution to the housing crisis, houses are,” the civic cabinet chair for community, arts and nighttime economy said. “We called on the State and Federal governments to open the idle Pinkenba Quarantine Facility almost 500 days ago. That’s 500 nights that 500 men, women and children could have been in safe and secure accommodation at Pinkenba.”

Liz Giles, group manager for Social and Community Services with Anglicare Southern Queensland told Yahoo “Anglicare Southern Queensland staff continues to see an uptrend in people experiencing hardship as a result of the housing affordability crisis and increasing cost of living pressures”.

“These numbers are spilling over into more visible street-based homelessness.” Ms Giles said. “The demand in Anglicare’s services continues to increase and we are hearing from more people who are living in cars, tents, sleeping in parks or couch surfing. Many of these people were vulnerable to begin with. As competition for affordable and available housing has increased, the most vulnerable people in our communities are being pushed further and further to the margins.”

Brisbane's tent city stuns

The video, appropriately captioned “current state of the Brisbane rental market”, quickly gained attention after being posted on Reddit on Tuesday evening, with more than 700 people sharing their horror in the comments.

Tents huddled under a tree in Brisbane.
Brisbane residents said tents have been popping up across the city. Source: Reddit

Several residents said the river isn’t the only area rough sleepers are camping out, with tents also seen in “lots of scrubland in surrounding suburbs too”. “It’s worse than this video shows,” one person said. “The tents have returned to Musgrave Park in West End, too. It’s just so soul destroying,” someone else added.

Others said they had seen tent cities in the US, but didn’t think they would ever see a similar situation in Australia. “It’s just insane…what have we become?” one Aussie asked.

Aussies 'one step away' from homelessness

One man pointed out that most people are just “one step away” from being in the same difficult position. He said a steep rise in his rent saw them looking for shelters after struggling to find an available property.

“I felt like an absolute failure of a human," he said. "Luckily something came up just in the nick of time, but man was it scary.” The man went on to describe the country’s rental security as “utterly f**king abysmal and dehumanising”.

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