Jamie Flack doesn't have particularly fond memories of living in what he describes as a "pretty dreaded part of Wollongong".
"It was around an area where there's lots of drug addicts and things like that," he said.
"Not a nice place for a young person's first experience living out of home."
More than 500 young people who were at risk of homelessness have been supported into safe and secure housing since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with the support of a NSW Government rental assistance program, Rent Choice Youth.
Offering an alternative to social housing, the program aims to provide young people aged 18 to 24 years old with a home and support.
After family circumstances led to Mr Flack leaving home several years ago, he was placed in the aforementioned independent living.
However, for nearly three years, Mr Flack, now 25, has been receiving Rent Choice Youth assistance.
Mr Flack said the program enabled him to move into a private rental in Wollongong.
"I've got into a private rental that I can afford (while) being subsidised, which has helped me to just be able to be financially stable, have a job and pay bills," he said.
Of his $300 weekly rent, he personally pays about $190.
"The point of the program was to taper up," he said.
"So they'll give you the most subsidy at the start, and by the end of the three years you should be paying your full amount.
"It hasn't worked out that way due to COVID... When COVID hit, they kept our tapering just at a standstill."
Mr Flack said he now enjoys living next to the beach, and feels more confident and happier.
Since being involved in the program he's also found it easier to secure more stable work in childcare.
"It's not affordable to have Centrelink benefits and all that, you end up with $100 to last you a fortnight (after rent)," he said.
"With the subsidy, I've been able to get a car loan, pay off my car. And they also did a brokerage, so I was able to get a new fridge and a washing machine."
He will finish the program later this year.
He hopes to remain in his current rental once his involvement with the program ends.
"It will be tight for me," he said. "I'll still be on the housing list, but I still can manage this place, just."
Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said Rent Choice Youth is the "helping hand some young people need to maintain or access secure housing, helping prevent them from sleeping rough or couch surfing".
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