Fed-Tas housing debt deal appears closer

A federal deal brokered by independent senator Jacqui Lambie to relieve Tasmania of $157 million of public housing debt appears to be edging closer to finality.

The state government has also campaigned for assistance from the Commonwealth as it battles an affordable housing shortage.

"Well, I think something has happened on it. It's just not in my charter," assistant housing minister Luke Howarth said in Hobart on Monday at the launch of National Homelessness Week.

"I think you'll hear something in the near future."

The debt, accumulated between 1956 and 1989, costs the Tasmanian government $15 million in repayments per year.

That's more than half the $30 million Canberra provides for public housing in the state each year.

Ms Lambie in early July demanded the debt be wiped in return for her support of the federal government's signature tax package.

"It's a lot of money obviously. We want to make sure that money is invested properly," Ms Howarth said.

"The finance minister and treasurer are discussing that with state government ministers."

Labor frontbencher Jason Clare told the federal government to hurry up and announce their intentions.

"It's cold down here, there are people sleeping rough in the freezing cold," he said.

The affordable housing problem, particularly in and around Hobart, has been aggravated by an Airbnb boom at the expense of rentals.