Australia's capital cities are now home to almost two-thirds of the nation's homeless population, after a huge spike in the 15 years from 2001.
As at 2016, 63 per cent of homeless people were concentrated in urban areas, up from 48 per cent according to analysis for the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute by Swinburne and RMIT Universities researchers.
"Rising rental costs and a shortage in the supply of affordable rents to those with the lowest incomes coincide with areas where the growth of homelessness has been most marked over time," Swinburne's Sharon Parkinson University said on Thursday.
While there is a high rate of homelessness in CBDs and adjacent areas, homelessness is spreading across metropolitan areas into middle and outer suburbs.
In Sydney, a corridor of high homelessness stretches from the inner-city to more than 30km westward.
In Melbourne, high homelessness rates are found in Dandenong about 25km from the city, as well as in Maribyrnong, Brimbank, Moreland, Darebin and Whitehorse councils.
The research found while rough sleepers were the most visible face of homelessness, they accounted for just seven per cent of those affected - more people (35 per cent) are living in severely-crowded accommodation.
The research has been released on the same day as the opening of a new crisis centre for homeless youth in Melbourne's city centre.
Frontyard Youth Services is the first of its kind in Australia, according to Melbourne City Mission, the charity organisation which runs the centre.
The 18-bed CBD facility offers round-the-clock accommodation and services including legal and welfare support, and help with drug and alcohol problems.
Melbourne City Mission chief executive Vicki Sutton said the centre was designed for young people who experience "severe and multiple disadvantage such as mental illness, trauma, disabilities and substance abuse" due to their tragic life circumstances.
"These young people can exhibit challenging behaviours making it hard for them to access many of the services currently available which are not equipped to support their needs."
Melbourne City Mission says there are just 109 crisis accommodation beds for young people across the state.
Australian Associated Press