The ongoing search for an appropriate rental property has been a problematic and frustrating process for Amber Fleming.
Ms Fleming, 23, lives with her fiancé and two young children at her mother's place in Albion Park.
She said they'd been searching for a rental for at least a year-and-a-half.
He's working permanent part-time and also receives the Disability Support Pension, while she receives Centrelink benefits as a carer and Family Tax Benefit.
"Rentals in the Illawarra are impossible unless you have lots of money which defeats the purpose of renting, know the renter or have rental history which is hard to get unless you get a rental," Ms Fleming said.
"(It's the) same concept as job experience. You need it to get it which is an endless circle unless someone gives you a break, or if you can pay advances on top of the bond to secure a place, which with two young kids is pretty hard."
It's a frustration shared by Kanahooka single mother Lysh Britt, 31. She has two boys, aged two and three.
"I am on the floor of my sister's townhouse on a mattress," she said.
"One of my sons is in a Portacot in the laundry.
"The other son is in my sister's daughter's room on a cot mattress.
"It's a new townhouse, so it's not like I'm living in poverty. But it's not an ideal circumstance. I am actively looking for rentals and applying every day.
"We have the means to rent and an immaculate rental history... I want my independence back, my children need a place they can call home."
A new report from property analyst Propertyology suggests Wollongong is significantly under-supplied from a rental perspective.
Their head of research, Simon Pressley said Wollongong had a vacancy rate of 1.4 per cent as of June 2020.
Vacancy rates ranged across Illawarra suburbs - for instance the 2527 postcode (which includes Albion Park) had a rate of 1.4 per cent, while 2533 (which includes Kiama) was 2.7 per cent.
A vacancy rate indicates how many properties are untenanted at the time of counting.
"Anything under two per cent is when a rental market starts to see rents rising and the scales are more tipped in the landlords' favour," Mr Pressley said.
Mr Pressley said vacancy rates were "very tight" in the Illawarra.
"Vacancy rates are by and large a by-product of Mum and Dad property investors, because they're the ones who determine whether there's enough supply," he said.
However, Mr Pressley didn't believe Wollongong's rental market has been affected as much by COVID-19 as other parts of Australia.
"But I'd say because COVID is affecting household incomes, the fundamentals for landlords in Wollongong at the moment are definitely in their favour.
"With that vacancy rate, the fundamentals there for landlords is good, but whether people have the confidence to force rents up and get away with it in this climate is another thing."