An Illawarra woman who overcame homelessness and domestic violence hopes an affordable housing complex can help others regain their lives.
On Monday, community housing provider the Housing Trust opened a 25-home complex in Bulli, as they work towards a 10-year target of creating 5000 additional homes to meet the region’s shortfall in social and affordable housing.
The complex, Farrell Gardens, is a former IRT site which has been renovated.
Farrell Gardens features 20 independent living units and five two-bedroom villas.
It will house residents who are over-55 or living with a disability.
They will be a mix of social and affordable housing tenants on very low to medium incomes.
For about a year, Robyn Milsted, 47, has been living on her own as a tenant in a Housing Trust unit block on New Dapto Road.
Previously, loss of employment and domestic violence resulted in her becoming homeless, and couch-surfing and living in motels.
Although she won’t be moving into the Bulli complex, Ms Milsted toured the site and spoke of the Housing Trust’s major impact on her life.
“They’ve helped me to regain my life back,” she said.
“It’s wonderful to have somewhere where you can say that you actually have a home, enabling you to rebuild your life again.
“For whatever circumstances these new tenants are moving into here, it’s going to help them to be able to regain their lives and rebuild with whatever issues they’re having in their lives.”
Ms Milsted said she had completed a Certificate III in Business Administration, and is now hoping to get back into the workforce.
Housing Trust CEO Michele Adair said the Bulli complex is a positive achievement in the fight to reduce the waiting list of people struggling to put a roof over their heads.
However, she emphasised that more needs to be done.
“There is a long way to go to meet the needs of the Illawarra, but by working together with community partners I am confident we can reach the target of 5000 homes within the next decade,” she said.
Ms Adair said the complex would be life-changing for those housed within it.
“Twenty-five properties, perhaps 30 tenants actually living here when we know that we need another 5000 properties is a tiny beginning – but it’s a start,” she said.
“The sorts of people that are going to be living here now, they have been homeless… And had no security or confidence in where they were going to sleep, if not from one night to the next from one week to the next.”
Read more: Housing Trust helps Vinnies sleepout
The Housing Trust says that in the Wollongong and Shellharbour LGAs there are 3500 people on the social housing waiting list.
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said as the city continues to grow it is important to acknowledge the need for housing suitable to all income levels.
“The opening of Farrell Gardens by the Housing Trust is a small but important step towards meeting the housing needs of low to middle income earners in Wollongong,” he said.
“Wollongong City Council is making housing affordability a priority focus during the rest of our term. It is important we work together with stakeholders such as Housing Trust to facilitate improvements in this area.”
The Housing Trust gave the community the opportunity to name the villa complex at Bulli.
Submissions were reviewed and the public chose the winning name from a list of finalists.