Andrew Browne is pleased the “stressful” process of finding a place to live is over, and hopes a new development will provide similar stability for other families.
Mr Browne, 24, is married with three children; Zavier, six, Zander, five, and daughter Zurana, two.
Mr Browne is a student, and also a volunteer with the Autism Community Network.
Wife Cassy is a full-time carer for their children.
Their two boys are on the autism spectrum, and Zurana has unilateral deafness.
The family are clients of community housing provider the Housing Trust, and have lived in a Trust property at Albion Park for nearly two years.
Mr Browne said the family were on the waiting list for a property for two-and-a-half years.
“The only reason we got it that quickly was because we were put on the priority housing list,” he said.
“Otherwise we were told it was going to be up to ten years.
“It was only because of the special needs that we got sped up… Before I was a Housing Trust client, I had applied for 65 (rental) properties within a six-month period, and was knocked back for every single one.”
He said it was a “frustrating, stressful” process as property owners continued to choose other tenants.
“With the autism, the kids need stability and therapy,” he said.
“When you don’t have a permanent residence, you can’t get an in-home therapist.
“So now we’ve been able to get that, and the kids have been making leaps and bounds.”
Meanwhile, construction will begin this month on the Housing Trust’s $1.66 million affordable housing development at Corrimal.
The new site, at 32 Eager Street, will accommodate four two-bedroom units and a one-bedroom villa, with the homes suitable for small families, couples or singles.
While his family is settled at Albion Park, Mr Browne was pleased that a handful of other parties would soon enjoy a similar sense of stability at the Corrimal site.
“(Complexes like this) are crucial for the Illawarra,” he said. “There’s families out there that are in the same situation, or even worse off than we are.
“There’s not enough properties, and not enough willing owners in the rental market to give us the ability to move into a normal rental property.
“There’s thousands of homes needed (in the Illawarra), and this is just a drop in the bucket.
“There’s not enough being done… The Housing Trust are doing as much as they can with what they have.”
Housing Trust CEO Michele Adair said the new development is a small but much-needed property that will provide affordable rental homes to people in desperate need.
“It is important to remember that there are many reasons for homelessness and housing stress,” she said.
“All of our families and friends are at risk. Giving people a safe and affordable home makes a major difference to individual lives and communities.”
The main construction work at Eager Street will begin at the end of November, and it is anticipated new residents will move into the complex in late 2019.
The new development comes five months after the Housing Trust launched its 25-home complex, Farrell Gardens, at Bulli.