The rate of people experiencing homelessness in the Illawarra is double that of the nation at large, newly released Census data shows.
The figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show there were 3132 people experiencing homelessness in this region on Census night in 2021, up from 3039 in 2016.
This is a rate of 99.8 people per 10,000 - more than twice that of the national rate of 48 people for every 10,000.
But it does represent a slight decrease from 2016, when in the Illawarra there were 103.6 people experiencing homelessness for every 10,000 people.
That year, the national rate was 50 per 10,000 people.
Wollongong Homeless Hub chief executive officer Mandy Booker said the figures did not come as a surprise, with her service seeing an increase in the number of people seeking help.
"It really is a wide demographic," Ms Booker said.
"There certainly is an increase in women of all ages presenting."
But those aged 45 and over were a group of particular concern, she said, with people getting priced out of the property market.
The national data showed that the rate of homelessness among females rose from 41 in 2016 to 42 people for every 10,000 females, with an overall 10.1 per cent increase in the number of females experiencing homelessness.
Ms Booker said in the last 12 months especially there had been a significant increase in the number of people sleeping in cars, as well as on trains - forms of homelessness that were more hidden from the community.
Census night in 2021 fell during the height of the Greater Sydney COVID-19 lockdown - which included the Illawarra - and Ms Booker said at that time there was a crackdown on rough sleeping and a freeze on rental evictions, which would have affected the figures.
The ABS' head of homelessness statistics Georgia Chapman said there were fewer people sleeping rough, staying with others, or living in severely overcrowded homes.
"However, we saw more people living in supported accommodation for the homeless, boarding houses and other temporary lodgings, such as a hotel or motel," Ms Chapman said.
The Census data showed that in the Illawarra, the statistical areas defined by the ABS that had the most people experiencing homelessness were Wollongong - West, Wollongong - East, Berkeley, Lake Heights and Cringila, and Figtree and Keiraville.
Those with the least were Horsley and Kembla Grange, Port Kembla industrial, and Thirroul, Austinmer and Coalcliff.
Ms Booker said more affordable housing stock and increased funding for services was needed to address homelessness.
Not only was there increasing demand for services, she said, but such organisations were also facing rising costs.
Ms Booker said the NSW government's investment in the Together Home progra, was significant and the sector was now waiting to hear if another tranche of funding was forthcoming.
"We know it works," she said of the program.
With the state election days away, Ms Booker called on all political parties to take action on homelessness.