Lyn Bailey worked for more than 50 years as a nurse, yet at the end of it had no housing security.
"It just made me feel absolutely terrible," Ms Bailey, 72, said on Thursday.
"I never thought I'd end up in this position, but I did.
"I'd had my own house for 34 years, and at the age of 57 I went through a divorce.
"We sold our house to go through a divorce settlement, and I didn't end up with enough to be able to buy anything else."
Ms Bailey spent more than a decade renting, until she retired from nursing two years ago and found she couldn't afford a private rental.
She moved in with her daughter and son-in-law.
However, they are now moving interstate for work.
Ms Bailey was facing potential homelessness until an affordable housing property became available from community housing provider the Housing Trust.
"I was starting to look at something to rent, and of course being on a pension, and looking at the rental prices, it was quite horrific," she told the Mercury.
"Then a property came up with the Housing Trust and I was fortunate enough to get it... Otherwise I don't know what I would have done."
Ms Bailey's currently working as a casual in an SES call centre, and is moving into the property in Shellharbour in NSW's Illawarra region this weekend.
She believes without social and affordable housing provision in NSW's Illawarra, she may have had to try to find accommodation sharing with strangers, or perhaps live in her car.
For the first time since my divorce, I can look forward and think, 'I'm going to be okay'.
"I'm just so grateful and relieved, because I know there are so many people out there... I even have friends in my position," she said.
"They're renting and living in fear that the landlord's going to put up the rent, or sell the property.
"And Housing Commission has such a long waiting list.
"And the whole COVID thing, that's just put all the more stress on people, particularly in my age group.
"I feel like I've won the lottery. It's taken so much stress off me, and my family.
"For the first time since my divorce, I can look forward and think, 'I'm going to be okay'."
New analysis by the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) NSW has indicated that 20,768 jobs could be supported in the Illawarra by building the social and affordable housing needed in the region.
Based on modelling by the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC), CHIA NSW estimates the total investment of $2.3 billion would support 20,768 jobs during the course of construction.
CHIA NSW CEO Mark Degotardi said by investing in social housing in the next budget, the NSW government can create local construction jobs for the Illawarra and keep families in the region housed through the coming recession.
"We know that even before COVID-19 the Illawarra needed 10,000 more homes by 2036 for renters struggling to keep a roof over their head," he said.
"Now COVID-19 could increase homelessness in the region by six per cent and see 11 per cent more local families in housing stress."
Michele Adair, CEO of the Wollongong-based Housing Trust said housing construction is one of the best forms of stimulus.
"It is jobs-intensive, creates a valuable public asset, and has the crucial social outcome of providing secure homes that people can afford," she said.