Trudi Wood shed tears of joy when she was handed the keys to a brand new two-bedroom home.
The 38-year-old says she has spent much of the past 16 years living in refuges, couch surfing, even living in her car.
She gave up custody of her three children because she didn’t want to cart them through various refuges all the time.
Now, she will be able to share care with her ex-partner and is already planning Christmas lunch with her girls at her new home.
“I feel like I have won the lotto – this house will be the start of my new life,” Ms Wood said.
“Now I can get my kids back… they have seen the house and are very excited.”
She added that, with a stable place to call home, she would be able to concentrate on finishing TAFE training so she could work in the fitness industry.
“Fitness and boxing have been really helpful to me in turning my life around,” she said.
“I run some free fitness sessions for people in my current neighbourhood and hopefully I can do that for my new neighbours.
“One day I hope I will be able to buy my own home because of this start I have been given.”
Ms Wood’s fresh start comes as part of a development that will see 65 social and affordable homes built in Thornton in a bid to reduce housing stress in the Hunter.
Not-for-profit Compass Housing is delivering 493 new homes across 19 sites under the NSW Government’s Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF) program.
The Thornton development is its largest project and includes a mixture of duplex and triplex dwellings, containing 49 two-bedroom, 11 one-bedroom, and five three-bedroom homes to accommodate people’s different housing needs.
Compass Housing spokesperson Lyndall Robertshaw said it would manage the tenancies and provide support services for residents once the finishing touches were completed.
“The SAHF program is about more than just building houses – it is about creating empowered tenants and sustainable communities,” Ms Robertshaw said.
“Compass has partnered with Hunter-based Mavid Group to build the homes, supporting local businesses and local jobs.”
The SAHF program is a key initiative of Future Directions of Social Housing – the NSW Government’s plan to deliver more and better social housing across the state.