ALMOST 500 homes will be built on the Coast over the next two years in a bid to combat the region's growing affordable-housing crisis.
Coast2Bay Housing Group is working with the State and Federal governments to buy 480 dwellings before June 2014, providing housing for people on low to moderate income at a 25% discount to market rent.
"We want to get all the ducks lined up over the next couple of weeks," Coast2Bay chief executive Morrie Evans said.
"We're hoping to be running by June 30 and have first houses online in the first half of next year through to the first half of 2014.
"We will have projects in Cooroy, Gympie, Noosaville, right down to Mango Hill in Moreton Bay.
"We'll have a small project in Maleny as well. It's a modest contribution to provide housing ... there's hundreds of households who don't have houses. When this is built there will still be hundreds."
The package will double Coast2Bay's community housing commitment, adding to its existing 400-odd dwellings on the Coast and 100 in Moreton Bay.
"There's insufficient stock to meet demand. The natural result of that is prices go up - there are more people bidding for fewer houses," Mr Evans said.
Queensland Shelter executive officer and National Shelter chairman Adrian Pisarski said even though house prices had dropped by 20% on the Coast, rent prices failed to follow because of the high demand.
In fact, they had risen by 2% over the past quarter.
"They'll probably continue to rise even though house prices are going down," he said.
"The vacancy rate of properties on the Sunshine Coast is at 1.2%. It's a tight rental market. The Sunshine Coast also has a very low base of public housing - something that we're hoping governments will continue to address.
"Our real concern is that the people at the bottom end of the housing market are the ones who suffer the greatest. That needs direct federal and state attention.
"The real stress is on the 80% of people under housing stress in the rental market, and when interest rates go down that helps the home owners. It doesn't help renters."
Across south-east Queensland, there are 87 applicants for every vacant public housing property.
A Department of Housing and Public Works spokesman said that at April 30 this year, there were 2205 registered applicants at the Maroochydore Housing Services Centre - incorporating the Coast and Gympie - for long-term social housing and 30,613 statewide.
"The department has 3821 social housing dwellings within the Maroochydore Housing Service Centre area," he said.
"As at March 31 there were 48 recorded vacancies in the Maroochydore Housing Service Centre area.
"This equates to 3773 properties being occupied, or a 99% occupancy rate. Of these 48 properties, 47 are vacant due to normal tenancy turnover."
The spokesman said that in 2010-11, the Maroochydore Housing Service Centre bought five dwellings for social housing for a total of $1.961 million and built 141 dwellings at a total cost of $32.8 million.
"For the 2010-11 and 2011-12 financial years, the department has provided over $28 million of capital grant funding to not-for-profit organisations for the construction of 106 dwellings within the Maroochydore Housing Service Centre area," he said.
"The Queensland Government also supports the National Rental Affordability Scheme, which is increasing the supply of affordable rental housing across Australia. Queensland has 11,284 approved NRAS incentives, which is the largest share of all states and territories. The Sunshine Coast region has been allocated 928 NRAS properties. Ninety-seven have been constructed, with a further 831 expected to be constructed by June 30, 2014.
"These rental dwellings are all newly built, well located and rents are charged at no more than 80% of market rent."
The Queensland Government offers programs to help lower income households access the private rental market.
This year, more than 20,000 Queensland households are expected to be assisted at the beginning of their rental tenancy through Bond Loans.
For very high need households, the government offers rental grants to provide a head start with the early costs of renting.
The RentConnect program is expected to help more than 4000 households across Queensland this year to find and secure a suitable private rental property they can afford and meets their needs.
A RentConnect service operates on the Sunshine Coast.