While appreciative of being able to live in the Illawarra, public housing tenant Shaylee Jones feels isolated from her support network.
The young mother of two has spent more than a year seeking a transfer to be closer to her family, who live in the Liverpool/Cabramatta area.
"It's such a beautiful area," the 24-year-old said of the Illawarra. "I'm five minutes from the beach, my kids go to a great school, and I've met some beautiful people here.
"But I just can't be here - my mental health is not suitable for my kids or me.
"I used to be so happy, taking my kids out all the time. Now I'm too scared to drive. It's just not a place for us."
Ms Jones was born in Campbelltown and raised in Cabramatta.
She was living with her children in public housing in Campbelltown, but after three months of establishing her family's life there, had to move as the property was being knocked down.
I know there's a housing shortage and I need to be patient, but it's hard when you go through stuff like this.
The family was relocated to public housing in Fernhill 18 months ago.
"It was kind of rushed, and I said I wanted to go back to my family because I have two young kids and don't want to go too far," Ms Jones said.
"They just didn't have really anything available, so I had to go with Wollongong.
"I was happy at the start, (being) near the beach with the kids and stuff.
"But it was sprung upon me so quickly, I didn't have enough time to really think it through. Now I'm having a struggle getting back."
She's spent those 18 months attempting to be relocated while experiencing an ongoing mental health battle.
After witnessing a family tragedy at age 12, Ms Jones was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and major anxiety disorder.
"I've dealt with it my whole life, and I've never really had an issue with it before," she said.
"It's been okay, I've learnt how to deal with it and having my kids, they've really helped my anxiety and post-traumatic stress.
"But ever since I've lived here, it's just all come back.
"I've been seeing psychologists, and I've got letters from my daughter's school, stating that I've kept her home multiple days because my anxiety is just too much."
Ms Jones applied for a transfer to the Campbelltown area on medical grounds, but said the townhouse they were offered in Claymore a month ago was unsuitable.
"All the doors were unlocked, the windows were broken, the house smelt like urine," she said.
"It was so gross. And I was so scared to even go upstairs, because I literally thought someone was in there."
Ms Jones feels there needs to be more quality public housing created, as well as easier access for people to transfer if required.
"I know there's a housing shortage and I need to be patient, but it's hard when you go through stuff like this," she said.
"I'm just waiting, I don't know what to do with myself."
How housing transfers work
A Department of Communities and Justice spokesperson said the department staff work with tenants to resolve their housing needs, which includes requests to transfer.
"Social housing tenants assessed as being in need of an urgent housing transfer include people who are at risk, escaping domestic violence or with severe and ongoing medical conditions," the spokesperson said.
According to the Communities and Justice website, if you are eligible for social housing, you are eligible to apply for a transfer.
However, transfers are only approved if you have a valid reason, such as one of the following, explained in greater detail:
- At risk: Establishing that you, or a member of your household, are at risk if you remain in your current home or location, because of domestic violence, abuse of older people or child abuse.
- Under occupancy: Under occupying a property is when a tenant has more bedrooms than they require.
- Medical condition or disability: You must clearly establish several points, including that your current home or location no longer meets your household's housing needs and that a transfer will assist in the management of the medical condition and/or disability of you or a member of your household.
- Family breakdown/separation: If there is a serious breakdown in the household relationship, your housing provider may provide separate housing.
- Compassionate reasons: If you need to move closer to personal support networks or special facilities, you will need to show that these requirements cannot be met where you are currently living.
Within social housing, some allocation zones are called 'high demand allocation zones' because the number of people requesting social housing in these areas need is so great.
The DCJ applies an extra filter for applications for housing in these zones to make sure that the applicant has a particular need (eg. a medical need) to be housed in that area.
High demand zones are found in the inner city of Sydney metropolitan area, and in some coastal areas such as Tweed Heads and the mid North Coast.
Meanwhile, there is also the unofficial 'Department Of Housing Swaps NSW' Facebook group.
"I do not work for/with any organisation to do with housing, I am only here to help speed up the process of finding your new home as it tends to take a lot longer if you leave it up to your housing supplier," the page's description reads.
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