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The impact of the Olympics on housing

Queensland is in a housing crisis. Mean rent increases in the past year have been above 20% in Brisbane according to SQM research, as well as increased homelessness and housing insecurity. This is driven by a lack of affordable and public housing, as well as extremely low rental availability and high rates of vacant properties (87,000 long term vacant properties in Queensland according to ABS), and no mechanisms to slow or stop rent increases.

What impacts will the Olympics have on housing affordability?

Negative effects on housing affordability in Olympic host cities is well documented. Brisbane, without significant government intervention now, will not be immune to these impacts. 

Documented impacts include:

  • Displacement: Between the 1980s and 2010s, Summer Olympics-related developments displaced more than two million people. In Sydney, around 300 boarding house residents were made homeless in the lead up to the Games. Displacement in LA in the lead up to their Games is already happening. I note that with the proposal to demolish family homes for a warm-up track at Raymond Park, displacement is already set to happen in Brisbane. 
  • Upward pressure on rent and house prices: In Sydney's  “Olympic Corridor” for example, house prices increased between 13.7% to 23.6% above inflation between 1997 and 1998, far exceeding the rest of the city. Rent in these areas also increased by between 15% to 40%over the same time period. London also experienced rent increases and price-gouging and increases in housing costs in host boroughs.
  • Failure of Olympics Villages: Olympics Villages are often privatized, or not transferred into public housing. 
  • Long-term housing shifted to short-term accommodation: This phenomenon has been documented in other host cities. In South Brisbane, we have seen whole blocks turned from long-term homes to short-term accommodation. Developers are already pitching new developments of short-term accommodation, and advertising to investors that there is money to be made from the Olympics. 

Combined, these impacts lead to increasing homelessness and housing insecurity. Meanwhile, renters and other residents in the community face extreme uncertainty.

My feedback to the government is:

  • We need a two-year rent freeze put in place now, followed by a long-term cap on rent increases, to ensure that the Olympics do not drive up the cost of rent in Brisbane. 
  • Across the state, the government need to implement inclusionary zoning, requiring private developments to include at least 25% public housing
  • Queensland needs significant limits on Airbnb and other short-term accommodation options within the inner city, so that long term residents aren’t pushed out for tourists
  • The Olympics Village and any additional accommodation for the Olympics should be turned into 100% public housing
  • All new residential dwellings within the Gabba Priority Development Area need to be 100% public housing
  • We need significantly more investment in public housing. 

What action have we taken to address this?

  • See my letter to the Minister for Housing regaridng the olympics here
  • Read our open letter to the Olympics organising committees here
  • See my question to the Premier from estimates in 2023 here
  • See my overview on how the Olympics is fueling gentirification and unsustainable development here
  • See the joint statement by the crossbench, calling on the government to develop a housing plan for the Olympics. 
  • Sign our petition to ensure that the government retain the 2032 Brisbane Athletes' Village  as 100% publicly-owned, genuinely affordable housing.