Sarah's* Kennington rental has been plagued with problems. But despite looking for more than a year, she has been unable to find an affordable home for herself and her three children.
Zero properties out of 150 surveyed in Bendigo were affordable and appropriate for single parents on parenting payments or Newstart, or singles on Newstart on Youth Allowance, according to Anglicare Victoria's housing snapshot released on Monday.
Regional Director Francis Lynch said a lack of affordable accommodation often meant people spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing, causing financial stress.
Read more: Affordable homes harder to find in Bendigo
Sarah* moved back to Bendigo six years ago with her three children. She has lived in several rental properties.
Her current home in Kennington has had a series of problems, including a fire in the hot water system, leaks, and neighbours leaving rubbish in the drive.
A fire in the adjoining house left her with smoke inhalation at one point, she said.
Despite looking for 12-18 months Sarah has been unable to find a house within her budget of $300-$320. She's viewed houses with almost 50 people lined up to see them.
With one child home-schooled after being severely bullied at school, the family lives on parenting payments. This and Sarah's chronic fatigue syndrome has left her unable to work.
Sarah said difficulty finding an appropriate and affordable rental could "break your spirits".
"You try to hold off thinking maybe something affordable will come up, something that is suitable for two kids and a teengager, but the prices just keep going up," she said.
"The quality of the houses is just getting worse for the price that you've got to pay."
Finding and affording a rental in Bendigo can be a challenge even for those working full time.
Amy* had to move every year for several years when she first moved back to Bendigo in 2010. She believes it was hard to find a rental because agents were prejudiced against her.
"Because I was a single mother with four children ... basically no one would even look at me, even though I was a university student," she said.
"I was, I guess, stereotyped as well, that's the thing. Before I moved I was paying $450 on my own ... and had an excellent rental history. But coming to Bendigo they just looked at me and went, 'No you're a single mother with four kids'.
"I guess they think, 'Oh well, you don't have an income', because at the time I was studying. There is that stereotypical view that single mothers are living off welfare. The only reason I was receiving Centrelink payments because I was a mother and was studying full time."
Amy has now been renting in Strathfieldaye for five years, and is happy with her landlords.
But, she's still paying more than half her weekly income in rent, even as a graduate teacher.
Juggling rent, food, bills and the needs of her children is a big cause of stress.
The high cost of renting means she has no hope of saving for a house deposit, and leaving the rental market, she said.
"It's been nearly 10 years that I've been ... on my own. You're always going to put your kids first. It does stress me out, and I do think at times, 'There's a birthday coming up', or 'Christmas is coming up'," she said.
"When you're living from week to week it's certainly a challenge."
*Names have been changed
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