Young mum Lara Veleski is rarely still.
When she's at home in Corrimal she cares for her now-teenage daughter, during the day she works as an early childhood educator and in the evenings she studies a Bachelor in Early Childhood Education.
She says her life would look very different if she hadn't been able to access affordable rental housing through the Housing Trust.
"I'd be homeless without them," she said.
"I was in the private rental market before and I could not afford to study and put my daughter through school.
"Some places didn't welcome children, and I had to move away from my family to find something I could afford.
"Affordable housing has provided my daughter and I the comfort and space we need for work and education.
"We're just happy - it feels like a family."
As the housing crisis worsens, Ms Veleski said she felt for those who aren't able to access the support they need.
The crisis is top of mind among voters on the coast, but services working in the sector say the government has failed to act.
A survey of 666 Gilmore voters undertaken by the Everybody's Home campaign found 84 per cent of respondents thought it was either 'hard' or 'very hard' for people on low-to-middle incomes to rent a home in the region.
A similarly strong majority 72 per cent believed the federal government had not done enough to address housing affordability, while 76 per cent thought there was not enough social and affordable housing for people struggling in the housing market.
A separate report by RentRabbit.com.au identified eight Illawarra-South Coast suburbs, including Warilla and Huskisson, in the top 20 suburbs most desperate for rental stock in NSW.
Housing Trust CEO Michele Adair said she was not surprised by the findings.
"Even before the floods, COVID and bushfires we had an affordable housing crisis across the Illawarra and Shoalhaven," she said.
"It used to only affect people on very low incomes, but now working professionals on good salaries with a household income of $120,000 are eligible for subsidised rental housing.
"A renter on a typical wage is spending 50 per cent of their income to put a roof over their heads. It's abhorrent, it can't continue."
Earlier this week, the NSW Government announced 15 apartments in Unanderra would be available for women fleeing domestic violence by late 2023.
Ms Adair said the effort was an "embarrassment" in the face of the amount of investment needed to turn the housing crisis around.
"It's almost insulting," she said.
"Unless we have budgets in the vicinity of $7-8 billion, which would be comparable to Victoria and Queensland, then the commitments from the NSW Government are embarrassing and can't be taken seriously.
"Just in the Illawarra we need three and a half thousand additional affordable homes."
Ms Adair said it was not good enough for the government to put the responsibility on individuals to absorb the rising costs of housing, particularly given the increased costs of other essential goods such as food and petrol.
"In the past 12 months in Gilmore has seen median rental increases of 12.5 per cent but wages growth is at best 2.5 per cent," she said.
"If you're paying 55 per cent of your income in rent you simply will not be saving to buy a home. You can't, it's a nonsense. Your children will be going without school equipment, elderly go without medication.
"Every part of a life is affected when in that sort of financial crisis."
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