I'm a 24-year-old journalist and first home builder. Sounds impressive, right?
But on weekends I work a second job pulling beers at the local pub. Some weeks I'm scraping to put fuel in my car and groceries in the fridge. There's no cash to spare. I'm living the housing crisis right there with you.
I understand the struggles associated with the rising cost of living and the ongoing housing crisis because I grew up in social housing in Lithgow, NSW, two hours west of Sydney.
I watched my parents struggle through no fault of their own. My father was diagnosed with a terminal illness in 2009 which meant they had no choice but to cope with the hand they'd been dealt.
With dad out of work and mum becoming his full-time carer, I saw them grapple with bills and putting food on the table, but they always made sure my brother and I had what we needed.
They raised us to be hard workers and to look after one another.
I knew this life of hardship wasn't the life they deserved so eventually, with my brother Nicolas, I built my first home in the Hunter region of NSW.
Together we're able to put a roof over our dad's head and make sure our mum is looked after.
Not one part of me regrets doing this for my parents and starting fresh in a new location.
But with the cost of everything on the rise, I felt like I had to start working two jobs to keep this dream a reality.
For a young person it's a lot of pressure but I wanted to get ahead and be on top of my bills because I do not want to lose what I've worked so hard for.
It might seem honourable but the burnout from working two jobs is real. I know I'm just one of many Australians juggling commitments and soaring costs. You are not alone. Your stories are my stories.
I've shared single mum Lisa Shaw's struggle with homelessness because she once had it all. Subscribers to The Lithgow Mercury can read her story here.
Now, along with so many other regional Australians, she's homeless. Lisa is dogged. She has to be positive.
But, her experiences show you're not alone and there is help.
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