HOMELESSNESS among people aged under 25 has doubled to 35,000 in the past 20 years, says a commissioner of the first independent inquiry into youth homelessness since an inquiry in 1989.
David MacKenzie, associate professor of sociology at Swinburne University in Victoria, yesterday said youth homelessness now accounted for one-third of all homeless people in Australia.
The problem of homelessness had been worsened by the rental crisis, said the chairman of the inquiry, the David Eldridge, of the Salvation Army. With the pressure on prices forcing out the bottom end of the market, the overflow has been too great for public housing to address.
He said the situation was heightened by governments that favoured the publicity generated by pilot programs over the less 'exciting' job of funding programs that were working.
'The circumstances have all come together at this time to make it a fairly explosive situation,' Major Eldridge said.
Wally Dethlefs, a commissioner who also sat on the 1989 inquiry of Brian Burdekin, a federal human rights commissioner, said: 'It's not just marginalised people, but TAFE and university students ending up in shelters. What we are hearing in this inquiry is [that] because of the increase in rent there is no exit point.'
Rents fuel plight of homeless young