ONE of the state's leading charities has called on the NSW government to take action to ease Wagga's growing social housing crisis.
With more than 400 applicants currently on the waiting list for social housing in Wagga, the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW has warned the situation is only set to get worse.
Vinnies' Wagga Central Council president Peter Burgess said action must be taken immediately to assist people in the community struggling to survive without secure housing.
"JobSeeker and JobKeeper are being pulled in just a matter of weeks, so I fear an even bigger crisis is yet to come," he said.
Vinnies is lobbying the NSW government to build an additional 5000 new social housing properties across the state each year for the next decade.
Mr Burgess said the number of applicants for social housing in Wagga had risen dramatically by 29 per cent from 317 to 409 over the past 12 months.
He said improving the housing options available to those in need would have a flow-on effect to many other aspects of society, including reducing rates of crime, homelessness and welfare dependence.
"So these people are living in their cars, they're couch surfing, at camping grounds, and some are in the private rental market but they're struggling immensely to survive."
Improving housing options would have a flow on effect to other aspects of society, according to Mr Burgess.
"If people are in a safe, convenient housing situation, then the reliance on government funded services like healthcare are reduced," he said.
"People become less dependent on that because they have a level of safety and contentment, so they don't have as many stresses and that can even have a big impact on reducing crime."
Wagga-based MLC Wes Fang said he agreed on the importance of providing adequate social housing, but that steps were already being taken to achieve that.
"The Tolland Renewal Project will build on all the lessons we've learnt from building social housing in the past, and that is that it's not just about bricks and mortar, it's about creating a community," he said.
"What we've done to date is more than what has ever been done previously and it's important to recognise that this project has now put us on a positive trajectory for the future."
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"It will make for an attractive place for people to live and be a part of, but the other side of things is that a number of existing homes will be bulldozed to make way for the development," he said.
"A lot of those are older homes which need extensive work or renovations, so we're excited to see what's to come."
Improving the social housing sector was a win-win for the community and the economy, according to Wagga MP Joe McGirr.
"Social housing is an ideal way of stimulating the economy through job creation and population, as well as doing social good at the same time, particularly with the recovery period ahead from covid," he said.
"This has been an issue of concern for me in Wagga for a while and one I've been working closely on, but it is promising to see the renewal project on the way in Tolland and other steps being taken.
"But they are true in saying that tackling homelessness comes in parts. Building the houses is one part, but the other part of the solution is helping people get through the challenges they face and looking after the community."