The 'no vacancy' sign is well and truly up on affordable housing.
It's been there for some time ... a long time, in fact.
But COVID-19 has exacerbated what was already a crisis in this, our 'lucky country'.
Renters in regional areas are in desperate need, with thousands of people relocating major cities during the pandemic, according to the annual report released by National Shelter, SGS Economics & Planning, the Brotherhood of St. Laurence and Beyond Bank Australia.
A single person on JobSeeker living in regional NSW pays 63 per cent of their income on rent, the report shows.
The situation is more dire in Greater Sydney where a single person on JobSeeker needs to spend 110 per cent of their income on rent.
The ACT, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane remain the most unaffordable of all capital cities.
And "regional areas offer scarce alternatives for the single person on benefits, where rents for this household are generally Extremely to Severely Unaffordable".
And so the grim spectre of people sleeping rough on the streets has made its presence felt much closer to home in recent times.
No longer confined to dirty, dank recesses of inner suburban areas of major cities, homelessness is under our noses on the Border.
People sleeping at train stations, by the river, in cars with their kids, in barbecue shelters on the Noreuil Park foreshore (before they and their bunched up belongings are moved swiftly on and out of sight).
And now, a whole new group of people; those who have never before contemplated not having a roof over their heads.
Buckling under the demand, they can't keep up with the number of people facing housing insecurity.
The stench of despair and futility wafts across the entire community.
And yet there are still those who wrinkle up their noses in disgust ("it's not my/our problem"; "get a job"; "get off drugs"; "it's a state issue"; "it's a federal issue").
In fact it's everybody's issue.
It was a point well made by Albury deputy mayor Amanda Cohn during a meeting on Monday night where council agreed to take action to tackle the city's lack of affordable housing.
"I think in a community where we've got out-of-control homelessness we really should be considering other options that might be available to us and not shirking that responsibility," Cr Cohn said.
NSW's peak peak body for community housing has called for immediate responses to crisis.
"Today's Index is yet another flashing neon sign to our state and federal governments that renters are struggling," Community Housing Industry Association NSW chief excecutive Mark Degotardi said on Wednesday.
He is calling on the state government to commit to long-term investment, in partnership with the federal government, local government and the community housing sector to provide relief to families in severe housing stress.
"The private rental market just cannot provide enough affordable homes for renters - that's why targeted investment in social and affordable homes is critical," Mr Degotardi says.
"There are already more than 50,000 families on the waiting list for social housing in NSW alone.
"In regional NSW, that figure is 16,700. These are all families who need long-term, secure homes."
Across the river the situation is no less critical.
Victoria remains severely unaffordable to significant proportions of the renting population, the RAI report states.
In November, Northern Victoria MP Wendy Lovell revealed Benalla and Wangaratta's social housing wait list had reached an all-time high.
The list of vulnerable families "languishing" on the social housing list in those towns reached 855 families in September - "an increase of 86.68 per cent since the election of the Andrews Labor Government".
"(And) it is unacceptable the number of families urgently waiting for priority housing (including those who are homeless, escaping domestic violence or living with a disability) has more than tripled to reach 457 families under this government," Ms Lovell said.
Wodonga's mayor Kevin Poulton says diversity of housing options is needed to address affordability issues.
"This is a key objective of the Wodonga Housing Strategy, a long-term plan adopted by the last council," he states.
Council supports the "fantastic work" of Beyond Housing in developing and providing social housing options in the region.
"We are also working with the Victorian Government and key stakeholders on the Big Housing Build program in Wodonga, which includes a $30 million minimum commitment to affordable and social housing," Mr Poulton adds.
There is no single solution to a problem that is complex and fragmented.
National Shelter executive officer Adrian Pisarski says a national housing plan, more housing, better tenancy laws, reforms of tax settings, new planning measures and the removal of incentives distorting our housing system are among the measures needed.
Mr Degotardi says there are not-for-profit community housing providers with shovel-ready projects that can provide "desperately needed homes for NSW families struggling to get by".
He believes not-for-profit community housing providers will do what private development can't.
"It will give low-income families a long-term secure home," he says.
"Investment in providing affordable rental housing through community housing providers will get more homes on the ground more quickly and provide some hope for families facing a bleak Christmas."