Homelessness in Wagga is being exacerbated by the COVID-19 situation and a shortage of affordable housing, according to those who have experienced the issue first-hand.
Aleta Tooth was homeless for three years in the Riverina, living in her car and crashing on couches until she finally secured a home this year.
She says things are only getting harder for those in need of a roof over their heads, with a historically tight rental market making it impossible for anyone with a less-than-perfect past to get over the line.
"It has become a lot harder to find a house in the Riverina, even in the time since I was homeless," Ms Tooth said. "It has become more and more difficult, especially with the COVID restrictions and stuff, to find a place at the moment."
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"A lot of people don't have rental references or things like that. If they've made mistakes and they don't have that good reference, they've lost that place.
"That judgement and stigma, it follows you everywhere."
In July, rental vacancies in the Riverina plummeted to 0.5 per cent, while the wait list for social housing in Wagga is estimated between two and five years.
Industry insiders have dubbed the real estate situation a housing crisis with those at risk of homelessness feeling the pinch.
Peter Johnstone was homeless for six years at one point and now he is watching his daughter struggle in an even worse market.
"It is hard to get housing now in Wagga and it has become worse because of COVID," Mr Johnstone said.
He said while Wagga isn't as dangerous as a lot of bigger cities for those without a home, there is a lack of infrastructure to deal with a worsening problem.
"There are a lot of homeless people here in Wagga but there aren't many services for them," he said.
"In the ACT, they have food vans who come around at night with hot meals but we don't have those kinds of facilities here for us."
He said the lack of daily services makes life much harder for the city's vulnerable.
"There is nowhere here for homeless people to go, that's why you see a lot of people walking around looking the way they do," he said.
"A shave or a shower, to wash their clothing or get a hot meal or bed at night - the basics - that's basically all they're asking for, they're not asking for the world."
On Friday, organisations gathered at the Victory Memorial Gardens to showcase various services, from legal aid to housing help, on offer for those who are homeless in the city.
Ms Tooth said it was thanks to one of these services, LikeMind, that she was finally able to secure a home but that the problem can't simply be solved with a roof and a key.
"When I finally got a home, it was extremely confronting," she said.
"For about three and a half weeks, I was packing my toiletry bag up every night after having a shower and putting it back in my car. Even though it was my house."
Ms Tooth said those who do secure a home need ongoing support to make the adjustment.
"Trying to reengage with the basic functions of being in a home - paying bills, figuring out food - those kinds of things need to be slowly built up," she said.
"After going so long from couch to couch, living on the streets, living in my car, having my dog beside me - you get into the house, you get handed the keys and everybody thinks it's all OK, but it's a whole new fight and a whole new ball game for us to re-engage in that normal society and lifestyle."
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