Teenagers falling behind at school, couch surfing while just out of high school and worsening mental health resulting in self-harm are just some of the stories told in a new survey highlighting the impact of youth homelessness in Tasmania.
Colony 47 released an online survey to participants in its Transition to Work program and on its Facebook page, receiving 66 responses in two weeks from Tasmanians aged 15 to 24 from across the state.
The findings included over 60 per cent stating their living conditions were either negatively impacting their mental health, or were the main reason why they had mental health issues.
Well over a third saw themselves as at risk of homelessness, with Tasmania's unaffordable rent a key driver.
The survey also allowed respondents to provide details of their living conditions, including one woman whose bipolar disorder meant she was unable to find housing alone, and another who stated they had attempted to self-harm as a result of their living conditions.
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In another response, a young woman stated her mother was living in their car while she stayed with friends close to her school.
"She applies for private housing, but most of them are over $350 a week, which is nearly all of our money, and we worry how we would afford to live if we did get these houses," the response reads.
"I have missed heaps of school and I've fallen very behind. I can't stay at the shelter with her for more than a couple of days as it's too far from school. My mum has always been there for me and I miss her a lot."
The survey results - titled The Real Youth Survival Report 2020 - were released to coincide with Anti-Poverty Week.
The report concluded that "many young people's current living condition is stressful", and recommended raising the JobSeeker rate to help young Tasmanians afford their rent, greater financial literacy in schools and more creative solutions to the state's housing crisis.
Clark independent MHR Andrew Wilkie said the report was "shocking reading".
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"Young Tasmanians have reported being homeless, breaking the law to get a place to sleep, feeling their lives were threatened due to homelessness and not being able to afford rent," he said.
"They skip meals, couch surf and can't afford to see a doctor. They're in financial stress and their mental health suffers."
In the latest available data, the Tasmanian Department of Human Services indicated there were 3373 applications on the housing register in June with an average waiting time of 63.6 weeks to house priority applicants.
Labor housing spokesperson Alison Standen said it was just the latest in a series of reports that continued to reflect the growing homelessness problem among Tasmania's youth.
Housing MInister Roger Jaensch said the government "is already acting in this space" and is investing "record amounts" into housing and homeless services.
"This includes initiatives delivered through our Affordable Housing Action Plan and the recent EOI to deliver up to 1000 new social housing dwellings over the next three years under our Community Housing Growth Program," he said.
The government established a working group to develop "immediate actions" with $513,000 to address youth homelessness. It also plans to establish two youth foyers - in Hobart and Burnie - by the end of 2022, and expand Thyne House in Launceston with 20 self-contained units to add to the 30 existing units.
A new Youth at Risk facility in Launceston provides short-term accommodation for under-16-year-olds, and 47 demountable units for public housing backyards were provided by July.
- Lifeline 13 11 14