The NSW government is under fire after new figures revealed more Illawarra residents are on longer waiting lists for a dwindling supply of public housing.
Applicants in Wollongong, Kiama, Shellharbour and Nowra face a minimum five years and in many cases more than 10 years, in the queue for government accommodation, according to the Department of Family and Community Services.
New department figures show 3320 applicants on waiting lists in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven region, up from 3197 in 2012.
"The government needs more housing stock, and to improve the ability to access public housing," Keira MP Ryan Park said yesterday. "There's no way this government is doing enough."
The report also highlights the scope of public housing in the region. The Illawarra and Shoalhaven have 11,151 social housing properties, almost 8 per cent of the 144,390 across NSW.
With 2011 census data revealing about 165,000 properties in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven, public housing accounts for almost 7 per cent of the region's properties.
Almost 80 public housing properties have been shaved from the region in the past year, that figure dropping from 11,227 in 2012.
"It doesn't take a university education to know that less stock will result in more people waiting longer," said Warren Wheeler, of the Illawarra and South Coast Tenants Service.
"Housing NSW have been selling off stock at a faster rate than they are building them."
A spokesperson for the Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward said the figures were a positive, after an Auditor-General report in July predicted 64,500 people would be on housing waiting lists in 2013.
Measures such as a charge on families in public housing with vacant bedrooms and the end of an inheritance policy for public housing, were cited as factors in keeping the increase in list numbers low, from 55,479 in 2012 to 57,451 today.
"The system Labor left meant public housing waiting lists were always going to go up," the department spokesperson said.
"Our reforms to public housing mean we are on track to arrest the spiralling growth predicted by the Auditor-General."
The number of public housing properties across NSW has dropped by more than 1300 in the past year, from 145,702 in 2012.
Opposition housing spokesperson Sophie Cotsis, said the government had also cut $22 million from housing construction and $37 million from maintenance budgets.
"It adds more pressure and just furthers the burden. They are not providing the housing supply," she said.
Mr Park said longer applicant lists, longer waiting times and less housing stock meant non-governmental agencies such as refuges and shelters were covering the shortfall, while lower housing budgets had knock-on effects for the wider local economy.
"This kind of downturn places enormous strain on crisis centres because people are unable to access private rental," he said.
"And if properties aren't being built or maintained, it has an impact on local business people and contractors, because employment generated from these properties is not in the Illawarra."