WIMMERA support agencies have disputed new statistics that show homelessness in the region is improving.
Figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed there was 534 homeless people in Horsham Rural City in 2017-18, which was down from 574 people in 2016-17 and 591 people from 2015-16.
The number of homeless people in Northern Grampians Shire also decreased from 289 people in 2016-17 to 277 in 2017-18, however it increased in West Wimmera Shire from 25 people to 40 people.
However, Australian Bureau of Statistics figures from the 2016 Census showed there were 75 homeless people in Horsham in 2011 and 43 people in 2016.
Uniting Wimmera youth support and homelessness manager Meredith Knoop said despite the statistics, homelessness was not improving in the region.
"Homelessness is a hidden issue in the Wimmera and we do not believe the issue is improving," she said.
"The Australian Bureau of Statistics doesn't have the capacity to count people sleeping rough in the area.
"Additionally, there is the misconception that if you are couch surfing that you are not homeless.
"This is just plain wrong."
Ms Knoop said there was a number of agencies in the region that supported people who were homeless, including Uniting Wimmera, Grampians Community Health and the Salvation Army.
"The main aim of each of our programs is to identify the reasons that put people at risk of homelessness and give them the skills, knowledge and advice to try to empower them to overcome these risks," she said.
"Many of the factors that lead to homelessness are also barriers to ending it.
"These include domestic violence, mental health issues, drug or alcohol problems and release from custodial sentences."
Ms Knoop said in order for homelessness to improve in the region, more education and support was needed in the community.
"There needs to be further education and highlighting of the issue," she said.
She said education would help reduce the stigma associated with being homeless.
"This should encourage people to seek help earlier," she said.
"More evidence of the homeless problem in the Wimmera also needs to be collated.
"This would, in turn, help advocates apply for further funding to deal with the problem."
Grampians Community Health healthy lifestyle manager Caleb Lourensz said the organisation helped 148 homeless people this financial year in Northern Grampians and Ararat municipalities.
"Of these people, 71 per cent were new clients accessing our homelessness services," he said.
"Overall there continues to be limited resources for people to access stable accommodation.
"This is exacerbate in rural areas where there are additional pressures in the private rental sector and clients are known and therefore not provided with accommodation because of their rental history.
"Many of our clients are unable to find accommodation due to the competing private rental market and discrimination they face when applying for private rentals.
"More housing is required to support these people."
Mr Lourensz said many support services were under-resourced to provide adequate support for people who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
"Grampians Community Health continues to support people who are homeless as best we can and would encourage people to call Uniting Wimmera on 5362 4000 if they require assistance," he said.
"Grampians Community Health is able to assist with referrals if required."
Overall 288,795 Australians sought homelessness assistance last financial year; equivalent to 1-in-85 Australians.
Homelessness Australia chairwoman Jenny Smith said a lack of affordable accommodation for people on low incomes was driving demand for homelessness assistance.
"Families on low incomes have simply run out of options when it comes to finding a home they can afford," she said.
Women and girls making up 61 per cent of people needing help.
"Women are on lower incomes, they're more likely to be victims of family violence, they're more likely to have children with them so they're at higher risk of experiencing homelessness," Ms Smith said.
Ms Smith said homelessness agencies were struggling because federal housing and homelessness funding has failed to keep pace with growing demand, and the cost of renting keeps rising faster than incomes, pushing a constant and increasing flow of people to their doors.
"Static federal funding, pitifully low Centrelink incomes and not enough social housing stock have created a perfect storm of increasing homelessness," she said.