Homeless young Tasmanians are waiting more than 66 weeks to get public housing, a Parliamentary inquiry has been told.
The Youth Network of Tasmania told the House of Assembly Select Committee on Housing Affordability that homeless young Tasmanians were not prioritised for public housing despite accounting for 30 per cent of the waiting list.
YNOT chief executive Tania Hunt and project and policy officer Jo Horton painted a grim picture of young Tasmanians being disproportionately affected by high rents and a lack of affordable and public housing.
Committee chair Labor member for Franklin Alison Standen asked what evidence there was that young people were not a priority for housing.
Ms Horton said she had requested figures from the Department of Health and Human Services which showed a wait for young homeless Tasmanians of 66.7 weeks for housing.
There were 1003 young Tasmanians on the housing register in March this year.
"What we know is that in March this year, they were receiving housing at an average wait of 66.7 weeks but that was for priority young people or people who were actually homeless," Ms Horton said.
"The issue we have is that young people themselves are not being considered priority.
"But what we want to say is that for early investment you're going to have greater outcomes if we get them into a home, get them the support and care they need to continue on with their studies and work we will then be able to help support them to become fully engaged adults in society rather than having to be dependent on the system."
Ms Hunt said young people living with their families because they could not afford private rentals was having a "significant impact on families".
"I think there's an assumption that families will support their young person until they can find accommodation and so it does put additional financial pressure and stress on families to be able to support their young person while they're living at home," she said.
Ms Horton said as well as financial stress there also was "psychological stress" on families.
She said young people earning less than $500 a week were priced out of the renal market.
One young person with complex mental health issues who was unable to live in group housing was "now reliant on their parents who are stretched to capacity and there's nowhere else for them to go."
Ms Standen said when she worked with the Smith Family 50 per cent of vulnerable children were from single parent families and 70 per cent had no working parent.
Liberal member for Braddon Joan Rylah questioned YNOT about the impact of the University of Tasmania only providing accommodation to first year students.
Ms Hunt said the university's decision had had a "significant impact".
"What we know is that did result in some young people actually ceasing their tertiary studies " she said.
"We had one young person who moved back to Victoria to work on the family farm because he just could not find accommodation.
"It did impact significantly at the time and i think it does have the potential to have more impact if it is not addressed."
The committee announced that it had widened the terms of reference of the inquiry to consider the regulation of rent price increases, with particular reference to the model in the Australian Capital Territory.
Ms Hunt told Greens leader Cassy O'Connor YNOT would support rent regulation.
"We would support that because significant rent increases are leading to homelessness," she said.
Ms Horton said while rent regulation was a "good measure" most young people were already locked out of private rentals.
"We need to increase the supply to drive down prices," she said.
Ms Hunt stressed that young Tasmanians needed to be included in discussions about their housing needs.
"There is a perception that young people chose to leave home and live independently, however ,what we do know is that the majority of young people leaving home have experienced trauma or family violence so it's not possible for them to be reunited with their family," she said.
"We need to ask them what they need and that is lacking at the moment.
"We need to look at the gaps and not just plugging the holes. The youth voice is lacking.
"We need to have a more strategic and co-ordinated approach to youth homelessness in this state."