Ten-year waits for public housing have become the norm across the Illawarra - but St Vincent de Paul says there is a solution, if the government will act.
Almost two-and-a-half thousand people are on the wait list for public housing between Helensburgh and Kiama.
Of those, only people looking for a four-plus bedroom home in Helensburgh - fewer than 25 people - face a wait of less than five years.
Everyone else faces a wait of five-to-10 years, or if you're after a studio, one-bedroom or two-bedroom home in Kiama, 10-plus years.
St Vincent de Paul Society NSW CEO Jack de Groot says the wait list across NSW social housing would be cut by three quarters if a longstanding solution recommended by charities and community organisations was pursued as policy.
"The Society and other groups have been calling on the NSW Government to commit to building 5000 new social housing dwellings every year for a decade for some time now," he said.
"This new report commissioned by the Society and developed by the Centre for Social Impact at the University of New South Wales shows that would cut the wait list by three quarters.
"The likely outcome if government doesn't act is an increasingly long list, increasingly long waiting times, and an escalation in the rate of homelessness."
Manager of the Wollongong Homeless Hub, Mandy Booker, said 5000 new homes per year was the bare minimum.
"There's no quick fix and no short term solution," she said.
"Even with all the goodwill and funding in the world, getting development applications through and securing land can be a two-year process.
"We need medium-term accommodation for people,we are so far behind.
"We have people come to us in crisis, and they have to return to sleeping in cars, because there is no accommodation."
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