EMERALD residents are living in the most expensive town in Queensland with single mothers living in cars and young people moving back in with their parents because they cannot afford to live on their own.
Queensland Shelter used the Residential Tenancies Authority to track rental prices throughout the state and the results show prices reached extraordinary highs.
Emerald is on the top of the list with the rent for a two-bedroom unit increasing by 53% in the last year.
Anglicare Emerald family accommodation support worker Lorraine Stanton said the conditions people are living in are "heartbreaking".
"A lot (people) come to town believing they can get a job in the mines straight up... but it's harder than they think. They can't afford to live here in the meantime, and then they need our help," Lorraine said.
She said they see a lot of housing stress from young people as they try to make a start for themselves, but then cannot afford to live, so they move back in with their families.
"It can cause family breakdown, because there are too many in the house. People are living in crowded situations," Lorraine said.
"We have people sleeping in their cars... mothers with babies. We can't help them all, it's heartbreaking."
Lorraine said the stress of housing is affecting people from all walks of life.
"It's not just the unemployed and the young, it's the working families, single mums or teenagers. It affects a lot of good people in the community."