Illawarra – a region crying out for infrastructure to support population growth

Our 2021 Regional Housing Need Report saw the Local Government Areas of both Wollongong and Shellharbour sitting in the top ten NSW Regional LGAs in terms of housing need.

Image via UOW

Our soon-to-be-released 2023 report (incorporating 2022 Census data) sadly, sees them still there, with a slighter worse position compared to others LGAs. Some highlights:


  • estimated population of the region was 220,274 in 2021, projected to increase by 26% to 265,769 by 2041
  • 2nd second largest regional LGA in the higher need list


  • estimated population of the region was 75,684 in 2021, projected to increase by 39% to 105,399 by 2041
  • third highest rate of population growth in regional LGAs over the next 20 years to 2041

Wollongong & Shellharbour – shared characteristics

  • the most significant growth will be in the 80-84 years and 85+ years, by 111% and 164% respectively (posing great challenges in terms of housing accessibility, affordability, size and location)
  • large proportions of mortgagee households, with many low-income households experiencing mortgage stress (likely to have accelerated)
  • large proportions of low-income households experiencing rental stress (tipped to intensify as housing demand increases with population).

relatively high proportions of social housing (Wollongong 8.5% and Shellharbour 6.5%) but with large unresolved social housing waiting lists requiring waits between 5-10 years.

Above: Shelter NSW Senior Policy Officer, Cathy Callaghan, and Michelle Adair, Housing Trust CEO, at the Summit in Wollongong. 

Shelter NSW was pleased to attend the Confront the Crisis Summit co-hosted by Business Illawarra and Housing Trust (a Tier 1 registered Community Housing Provider) in Wollongong this week. The Summit called for collaboration, creativity, community engagement and multi-level government leadership to tackle what is already a serious housing crisis in the region. The event was featured in this short WIN News story.

Shelter NSW calls on the NSW Government and Councils across the broader Illawarra to ensure that the creation of well-designed and well-located social and affordable rental housing keeps up with the demands of this beautiful and growing region.

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