The head of one of Wagga's biggest charities has welcomed the push for a royal commission into Australia's housing crisis, which he believes could bring the issue into the national spotlight.
Councils across NSW have unanimously agreed to campaign for the housing royal commission, off the back of years of skyrocketing house prices and record low rental vacancy rates.
The decision was made at this week's Local Government NSW conference which was attended by mayors and councillors from across the state.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Wagga St Vincent de Paul president Peter Burgess has been a long-term campaigner for solutions to the housing crisis, which he says is forcing low income residents onto the streets.
Mr Burgess said a royal commission would be a good idea because it would elevate the "easily forgotten" issue into the national consciousness.
"If it does nothing else it will at least raise awareness of how serious the problem is," he said.
The charity president expressed hopes the proposed royal commission would focus on the serious lack of social housing available in regional NSW, which is forcing "really needy people" into the incredibly competitive commercial market.
Wagga mayor Dallas Tout attended the conference and supported the motion, which he said was one of many centred around the housing crisis.
He suggested that even if no royal commission comes out of it, the campaign showcases the commitment from councils to find an issue to the problem.
"Even if it doesn't come off it gives a flag and an indicator that social and affordable housing is a critical thing across the state," Cr Tout said.
"It's something that lays at the feet of the state government but it's critical local government is involved in those discussions and present for any decisions made."
Wagga has seen firsthand the impact of the housing crisis, with the cost of renting a property rising dramatically in recent years, Cr Tout said.
Mr Burgess said this rise in rental cost was reflected in the number of homeless people in the area, with many currently forced to sleep under trees at Wilks Park in North Wagga.
"Anything that raises awareness of people who are struggling like that would be a good thing," he said.
Member for Murray Helen Dalton organised a large-scale community forum in Griffith last month to discuss issues surrounding the Riverina's housing crisis.
She said the state government should be able to work out a solution to the issue without the need for a royal commission.
"I just wish the government would listen a little bit," Ms Dalton said. "We should be able to work this out without all the cost and time which is allocated in a royal commission."
Ms Dalton blamed the crisis on not enough homes being constructed as a result of excessive regulations by the NSW government.
"The difference in how easy it is to build in Victoria compared to NSW is exorbitant," she said. "I think this shows the frustration from the councils themselves."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.