The latest analysis of real estate data has found that most private rental properties in Wagga would be 'unaffordable' to people on unemployment welfare or the aged pension.
The SGS Economics and Planning Rental Affordability Index has found that a single aged pensioner would have to spent up to 60 per cent of their income on rents, placing them in 'housing stress'.
Someone on the Newstart allowance for unemployment would find Wagga 'severely unaffordable'.
A pensioner couple would find the Wagga market 'moderately unaffordable'.
Wagga's rental affordability was better than in Canberra, Sydney and parts of Newcastle, which were rated 'extremely unaffordable' for people on welfare and the pension.
SGS Economics and Planning senior consultant Kishan Ratnam told The Daily Advertiser that the index tracked rental affordability across Australia over the past five years.
"Affordability is a complex question; it depends on various things, what type of housing, location and income levels," he said.
"Sydney has improved considerably over the past three years through a combination of rising household incomes and stable rents.
"Regional NSW on the other hand has not improved but it has not got worse. It;'s been stable for the past three years. For a household earning $70,000 per annum it's overall affordable."
Mr Ratnam said the Riverina's housing was affordable for the average NSW household.
"Leeton is probably the most affordable, more so than Wagga or Griffith," he said.
"This is looking with average incomes; if you go down to low income household types then it becomes severely unaffordable."
St Vincent's Wagga Central Council president Peter Burgess said there were "plenty of people in Wagga who are above the housing stress level" and spending a large proportion of their income on rent, including "single mothers with kids".
"People struggling to afford housing are without a doubt the biggest call upon us and our resources," he said.
"St Vincent's' is working with the state government to build 500 special housing lots but it's a drop in the ocean.
"People on Newstart who have to find private rentals really struggle and they are the people who call on us and ask if we can help with some food.
"If you are spending 50 per cent of your income on housing and you have got a couple of little kids to look after, things can get pretty grim."
Mr Ratnam said Riverina was in the same situation as most of Australia when it came to unaffordable rents for people on welfare.
"For anyone on Newstart, [rental properties] are unaffordable across the whole of the Riverina," he said.
"They'd be looking at spending 60 per cent of their income on rent, when a commonly used threshold is that once you are spending 30 per cent of your income on rent, it puts you under housing stress with little remaining disposable income to spend on things like transport, education and healthcare.
"Even for a slightly higher income household, maybe a pensioner couple, it's borderline: they end up at the 30 per cent threshold but they would probably have more external costs being older, such as healthcare."