The number of people sleeping on Wollongong's streets has jumped over 30 per cent in a year, the latest street count has revealed.
The NSW Department of Communities and Justice annual statewide survey counted 59 people sleeping rough in the Wollongong local government area in February, up from 45 last year.
In 2021, there were 37 people counted rough sleeping, while in 2020, there were 10.
There was a decrease in Shellharbour, from seven people to five, while in Kiama the number rose from four people last year to six this year.
There were two people recorded sleeping rough in Shellharbour in 2021 and one the year prior, while in Kiama there were one and four, respectively.
Across the Illawarra, there was a 20 per cent increase in the number of people sleeping rough from 2022 to 2023.
Diane Manns, chief executive officer of Supported Accommodation and Homelessness Services Shoalhaven Illawarra (SAHSSI), said the figures did not come as a surprise.
"We're getting an increase in demand for safe housing here at SAHSSI," Ms Manns said.
She said there was an urgent need for more housing supply in the region, which combined with increasing rental prices, lengthened the organisation's waiting list.
On top of that, Ms Manns said, people SAHSSI placed in crisis accommodation were not able to transition out of it as quickly because of the lack of affordable rental homes.
Peak body Homelessness NSW is calling on the state government to inject more funding in services.
"Frontline services are so overwhelmed they can only help half the people who present to them and must make heartbreaking decisions about who to turn away," CEO Trina Jones said.
"We acknowledge the government's commitment to drive homelessness numbers down and urge it to invest in the programs that work in the September budget."
Ms Manns agreed with the call to increase funding for homelessness services, but also said the proposed $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund from the Commonwealth - which would build 30,000 new social and affordable homes within five years, and put investment returns into such housing - would be "amazing".
The fund will not pass parliament until at least October after a Greens motion to delay the bill was successful last week.
Overall in NSW, the number of people counted sleeping rough increased by 34 per cent from 2022 to reach 1623 people in 2023.
Thirteen locations were visited in the Wollongong area during the count, while there were six in Shellharbour and two in Kiama.
The street counts are observational and involve a head count of people sleeping rough in a particular area, based on such criteria as having a substantial amount of belongings with them or sleeping in an improvised shelter.