Complex border conditions, few vacancies and higher rents have only increased housing stress in the Riverina during the pandemic.
Mission Australia regional leader Murrumbidgee and southern NSW Peta Larsen said Victorian families who had worked in Queensland for a few months then found it difficult to return to their home state.
"On the way through, potentially being picked up and fined and then finding themselves in a homeless situation," she said.
"That's a really COVID-specific example but other than that, just with the sheer increase of demand on housing.
"What we're finding, pre-COVID, in Wagga, in Albury, picking up a rental for sort of $190 to $200 a week was a possibility.
"Now you're looking at $270 as a minimum and there's such critically low vacancy rates."
Mission Australia joined Country Women's Association of NSW this week in advocating for more social and affordable housing in rural and regional areas.
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CWA state president Stephanie Stanhope said people shifting from cities to the regions had pushed up home prices, making housing affordability "an issue of real urgency".
"Everybody deserves to have a safe, secure and affordable place to live and we support community housing providers who are pleading for more to be done to help the state's most vulnerable citizens," she said.
Mission Australia state director for NSW, ACT and Victoria Nada Nasser said the growth in regional rental stress was outpacing that of capital cities.
She called for investment in affordable housing as part of a post-pandemic economic stimulus program.
"In order to meet just the current demand, there's a need for about 5000 new social housing dwellings every year for the next 10 years, and that doesn't factor in increases in demand," she said.
Ms Nasser said factors like lack of financial independence, relationship breakdowns later in life and domestic violence had seen a growing rate of homelessness among women aged over 55 years.
Assistance could be harder to access in rural areas and often women had to move beyond their community to find somewhere to live.
"Both in terms from an anonymity perspective, but also sometimes that accommodation support may not be available in the town where she's living," she said.
"Many women who find themselves homeless at that age never imagine they would be in that situation."
The CWA of NSW's annual awareness week took place September 5-11.
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