Government should hand over title on some of the state's housing properties to charities that could leverage the buildings to borrow money and provide more stock, an Illawarra charity chief has told the state's inquiry into affordable housing.
Southern Youth and Family Services (SYFS) chief executive Narelle Clay made the proposal during a visit by the parliamentary select committee to Wollongong on Thursday.
She called for title to be made available to non-government organisations and charities with good track records, for periods of between 20 and 25 years.
"We need investment, we need to be given title on some of the properties so we can leverage funding on those," she told the NSW Parliament's Public, Social and Affordable Housing Inquiry.
Ms Clay also called on the government to offer greater support to smaller providers such as SYFS, which operates about 100 properties for use by young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
She urged the committee to include smaller organisations in future agreements relating to title.
"We never wanted to be a great big, massive [organisation] ... we want to stay connected to young people".
Ms Clay told the Mercury the charity leased its properties from Housing NSW and other bodies, and was already responsible for the maintenance of some of them.
Owning title on the buildings would allow for borrowing to build more housing.
"Where we have a shortage of housing we need to always be looking at ways to increase stock."
Wollongong MP Noreen Hay told the inquiry the lengthy waiting list for public housing in the Illawarra had led to people being housed in unsuitable properties.
"They are treated like different people - they are really discriminated against," she said.
The inquiry heard from several public housing tenants and representatives from Wollongong Emergency Family Housing, Wollongong Women's Housing, Illawarra Community Housing Trust and the Illawarra branch of Public Housing NSW.