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Australia 'I've never felt anxious like this in my life': Meet Zetta, the young face of Tasmania's housing crisis

15:30  13 october  2019
15:30  13 october  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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a woman standing in front of a window: Zetta Clifford says she may be forced to leave her home state to find somewhere affordable to live. (ABC News: April McLennan)© Provided by Australian Broadcasting Corporation Zetta Clifford says she may be forced to leave her home state to find somewhere affordable to live. (ABC News: April McLennan)

Zetta Clifford hasn't had a permanent place to call home for a year.

The 18-year-old has been couch surfing and has stayed in a women's shelter.

"I don't doubt that people will think of the typical homeless person as the old dude on the park bench," she said.

"What you don't see is the people who are couch surfing with their friends, until you're the friend that's taken them in.

"You don't know about the people living in hotels or tents because we try keep it out of sight … there's a lot more going on behind the scenes."

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Ms Clifford is just one of thousands of Tasmanians who are facing housing stress, or are at risk of homelessness.

She said her insecure living arrangements were taking a significant emotional toll.

"I've never felt anxious like this in my life," she said. "It's the stress of not knowing where I'm going to end up, it can change on a day-to-day basis and nobody seems to care."

Ms Clifford recently left Hobart for Launceston, 250 kilometres north of the state's capital, where she'll stay with friends until she can find permanent living arrangements.

The decision came after her relationship broke down, and she says she can't move home because there's not enough room.

"I'm also being forced to look at moving to Ballarat or the mainland in general because a lot of its cheaper," she said.

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"The places for rent down here are just not doable, especially on a Centrelink payment."

"The cheapest place I've seen was $295 a week and I get $230 a week."

Housing expo attracts 1,000 as public housing waiting list grows

Tasmania's housing crisis is the result of a perfect storm of sky-high rents, soaring property values, a booming short stay accommodation sector, and a growing public housing waitlist.

The State Government has confirmed plans to build hundreds of affordable homes by the end of the 2019/20 financial year, but has stopped short of detailing exact numbers.

It plans to release more land for development close to services and will spend $258 million on affordable housing over eight years.

On Sunday the government held an expo in partnership with Hobart City Council, and the not-for-profit, community and housing sectors, to provide information and support to people battling homelessness and housing stress.

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More than 1,000 people passed through the doors of Hobart's City Hall during the expo.

"If people can reach out to these services early maybe they can avoid finding themselves or their families in a position of housing crisis," Housing Minister Roger Jaensch said.

"This is about awareness, both for people who need help now, and for people that want to help others and pass on information."

"Under one roof we have a full range of service providers from crisis and emergency accommodation right through to new transportable pre-fabricated housing."

Labor spokesman David O'Byrne said the government has had ample time to come up with concrete measures to fix the crisis.

"This is a government that's had two crisis meetings, and now an expo, and the public housing wait time has blown out from 22 weeks to 66 weeks," he said.

"This government needs to do less talking, more acting and get roofs over people's heads.

"We've had a crisis now for a number of years … and I think the people of Tasmania deserve better."

Tasmanian living in a tent says lack of accommodation prevents him getting a job

For people like Paul Rogers, 43, solutions can't come soon enough.

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He has been living in a tent in his sister-in-law's backyard in Bridgewater, in Hobart's north, for more than 12 months.

He's a type one diabetic and also struggles with anxiety and depression.

He said he wants to work, but his current living arrangements have made it difficult to get job interviews and the help he needs to get back on his feet.

"It's hard to get to sleep and put your mind at rest and know that you're going to have a good night's sleep without your tent falling down," he said.

"You sometimes have nights where you have really bad winds and it blows the whole side of the tent in."

Mr Rogers said he's been on the state government's public housing waitlist since January 2018.

There are more than 3,000 people waiting for social housing, and the average wait time for category one applicants such as Mr Rogers is more than a year and three months.

"Obviously they're building houses but how many people are waiting for them," he said.

"They say I'm category one but so are thousands of others.

"The situation is Hobart is getting worse, I don't see it getting any better."

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