After being left homeless, Bob Petersen spent the best part of two years riding the train of a night between Kiama and Central.
"It was alright," the 74-year-old said nonchalantly of the experience.
"I knew a few blokes who do it, and they're still doing it. They'd been doing it for years. And I said, 'oh well, it's somewhere to sleep instead of sleeping out in the cold'."
Mr Petersen had been living in share accommodation on the Central Coast, but said he had to leave after disputes with others there.
Unfortunately, this wasn't his first stint being homeless either.
"A lot of people probably think we're all drug addicts and things like that," Mr Petersen said of the homeless population.
"There are quite a few around of course, but we're not all like that. I used to have a bit of a drinking problem, but I've cut down a hell of a lot on that.
"(When riding trains) I always kept myself pretty clean, go to homeless places and drop-in centres and have showers.
"If you keep yourself clean and tidy, I don't think people really worry about you (in terms of safety). But if you are dirty, people will be like, 'look at that dirty old bugger'."
Wollongong Emergency Family Housing and the Wollongong Homeless Hub is a specialist homelessness service that provides support, information, referral and advocacy to homeless people or those at risk of homelessness.
Staff conduct outreach on the trains every three weeks.
Manager Mandy Booker said they'd seen an increased amount of people sleeping on trains and needing to connect to services.
"During winter we usually see that increase, but this year there's a bigger increase due to the pandemic," she said.
Ms Booker said they were surprised with the demographic who were sleeping on the trains - the average age was typically over 60, and both men and women.
"We're trying to connect as many people as we can back into engaging with supports, so we can get them back into housing," she said.
One such person is Mr Petersen, who has been staying at the Homeless Hub's crisis accommodation for the past several weeks, while working with the Hub team to look at pathways to a long-term housing solution.
"I think the government's got to do something to help people (like him), and look into it a bit more," he said.
"I didn't realise how much support there was around for people that are like me."
Ms Booker estimates between 1500 and 2000 people are homeless on any given night in the Illawarra.
She said they'd had a 42 per cent increase in demand for their services compared to the same time last year.
However, these numbers are expected to climb as the full impact of COVID-19 is realised.
"I think we're only just starting to see now the slow increase of what we would consider is possibly going to come through our door in the next six months' time," Ms Booker said.
"People at the moment are still being propped up with some of the supplement payments.
"Once people are actually losing their work and not being able to go back into the employment they once had, they will not be able to retain their mortgages that are now currently on hold, or the rental properties that they can no longer afford to rent."
During Homelessness Week (August 2 to 8), affordable housing provider Housing Trust has announced it will partner with Wollongong Family Emergency Housing and NEAMI National to deliver wraparound case management services for the 'Together Home' program.
Together Home was announced by the NSW Government in June.
The program aims to transition people who were sleeping rough during the pandemic into secure housing, while also providing access to health and well-being services.
Trust CEO Michele Adair said the program was an important response to homelessness in the region.
"Stable, secure affordable housing is the first step to tackling homelessness," she said. "By delivering support services as part of the package we are giving people the best chance to face the future with confidence."
While the Housing Trust has already secured some properties for the Together Home program, more are needed.
The Housing Trust is looking for one or two-bedroom units, villas or townhouses in small complexes it can lease for up to two years. The properties do not need to be new, as long as they are in good condition and safe.
Homelessness - or those at risk of it - can run the gamut of age groups.
Southern Youth and Family Services (SYFS), based at Warilla, is a community-based organisation that provides support and assistance to vulnerable, disadvantaged and homeless young people and those at risk of disadvantage and homelessness.
CEO Narelle Clay said one of the key issues in the region is the high cost of private rental.
"You've got young people who are very hard done by because their incomes are much lower than adults," she said. "They just simply can't compete in that rental market.
"They get some casual work, they're paying their rent.
"But if they lose that casual work, they could lose their housing. We had a lot of young people who had casual employment who just lost it straight away (due to the pandemic).
"I think in terms of social housing, there's a need for more youth specific housing.
"They're not necessarily, some of them, ready just to be thrown out into the market to live independently."
Among the young people who have been helped by SYFS is Dylan Clegg, 18, who was at risk of homelessness.
He's now working and studying, and living in SYFS' Young Independent People In Housing (YIPIH) complex in Wollongong.
"I never used to go into shops - my anxiety was really bad," he said. "But soon as I came to SYFS, they've helped me with that. I can go out into public now, I feel more confident in myself. And the next stage now will be getting my own house."
He does think more can be done to help disadvantaged young people and those at risk of homelessness find housing, though.
"Young people experience a lot of problems trying to find private housing on the income that they have... (The benefits) should be increased from where it is now, just to help them out a bit."
As Homelessness Week 2020 wraps up, Ms Clay offered some thoughts.
"People often say, 'why are we celebrating Homelessness Week?'" she said.
"We're not celebrating Homelessness Week, there is nothing to celebrate. We should be ashamed that we have homelessness to this degree in this country.
"It is a really big problem in this country.
"However, it's not so big that it can't be fixed. If the community and government would commit, we could fix this. If we invest the money upfront in social housing, in decent incomes, in the extra support early on, we actually could reduce those numbers massively."