Tasmania's reliance on a rental subsidy program is preventing women from fleeing family violence from being able to access long-term affordable housing, a new report has found.
The report, released in January, found that women fleeing domestic violence situations in Tasmania were struggling to find suitable accommodation in the private rental market despite a government subsidy aimed at assisting them with paying rent.
Community housing providers were interviewed as part of the researched which examined the effectiveness of rental subsidy programs in Tasmania and New South Wales.
One Tasmanian provider said "there's a real crisis in housing it's horrendous, it's the worst that I can remember". While another said "there's so many women escaping [domestic violence] that there's not the houses to support the families".
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Tasmania's Rapid Rehousing program provides subsidised rentals for 12 months where the cost to the occupant doesn't exceed 30 per cent of their income.
Community housing providers are paid a lump sum of $13,000 to help clients find suitable accommodation.
Report co-author and Housing and Community Research Unit deputy director Kathleen Flanagan said the crisis response for women fleeing family violence was working as well as could be expected.
But she said the options for women to move into suitable, stable housing after spending time in a shelter were limited.
"Women are staying in shelters longer because they can't get out into stable housing," Dr Flanagan said.
Dr Flanagan said rental subsidies work well in markets that have spare capacity but in places like Tasmania where the market is tight they don't.
She said expecting the private rental market to operate like social housing was problematic.
"A much more functional, efficient and effective use of public funds is to invest in more social housing," Dr Flanagan said.
Fighting Back against family violence
"[Our research found] the amount of the subsidy was not enough to allow women access to long-term housing. It either cut out too early or there simply wasn't the housing supply available," Dr Flanagan said.
A Tasmanian government spokesperson said since July 2019 the government had increased the capacity of women's shelters by 35 places.
"The government has also secured a further 20 places in the Rapid Rehousing program and in partnership with the federal government is investing a combined $9.3 million to extend the capacity of women's shelters across the state including through Jireh House, Salvation Army and Magnolia House," the spokesperson said.
"Over the next three years, we will deliver more than 1500 new social houses, including an estimated 444 within the next 12 months alone."
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