The demand in Canberra for the community sector to support people is expected to rise within months as public service cuts begin to bite.
The ACT Council of Social Service (ACOSS) is bracing for the impact, which could result in more people becoming homeless.
''Demand is not dropping for community sector support,'' council director Roslyn Dundas said last night.
The prediction follows the release of an ACOSS report which shows housing and homelessness services are stretched and unable to meet growing demand for services.
The lack of secure and affordable housing is the biggest problem facing disadvantaged Australians, according to the survey of 665 welfare agencies.
About 80 per cent of agencies that specialise in helping the homeless said they could not meet the demand for services, and that waiting times for their clients had increased.
The annual survey by ACOSS covers community agencies that work in domestic violence, mental health, youth welfare, emergency relief, legal aid and other areas. It provides a snapshot of clients' most pressing needs, and the ability of agencies to meet demand.
The Australian Community Sector Survey 2012 shows housing was nominated by 59 per cent of agencies as their clients' most pressing need. Mental health services was the second highest need not being met.
However, the survey reveals the beneficial effect of the federal government's three-year, $5.2 billion funding package for social housing that began in 2008-09.
More than half the properties built under the initiative were allocated to people who were homeless or experiencing domestic violence.
The survey showed 20,000 people were turned away from shelters in a year, or 56 each day.
''The high turn away rate reflects the local experience,'' Ms Dundas said.
''But what we are seeing is that the steps we are taking in terms of connection and engagement across the homelessness sector in the ACT are steps in the right direction …
''The concerns of organisations across the nation about community and government support for the work we are doing, that is funding levels, are keenly felt locally.
''We are anticipating with all the changes that are happening in the local community, like the federal public service cuts and the impact of new electricity bills and all of those things that are probably starting to come through in the next couple of months, that will add to the demand for community services in the ACT,'' she said.