"I'm at my wits end."
With five young children and a single income, Carinahh Robinson is left with a mountain of stress and declining mental health as she continues to battle the competitive Mid-Western rental market.
The Mudgee resident first moved to the area in 2008, a time when $300 a week could get you a "brand new three bedroom home", but now things are different, especially if you're a parent of five.
"The rental market has changed dramatically since I first moved here, it's jumped ridiculously," Ms Robinson said.
"I have to make sure I at least try and get a four bedroom house so my children have the room, but trying to get a four bedroom home under $600 a week is beyond a possibility.
"If I were to pay $600 a week, I'd be left with about $200. I need food for my children and myself, I have their daycare fees, the stuff they need for school, petrol. I can't do all that.
"I know I chose to have my children and I thought I could provide for them, and back then when I first had children I could."
Over the past year, a surge in pleas on social media have appeared almost daily, with contributors desperate to find something privately within their budget.
However, after recently resorting to this method, Ms Robinson was left scorned, having fallen victim to a scam.
"I got very excited thinking I had a house for my children and well, when I went and knocked on the person's door that they were advertising for, there was an elderly couple. They had no idea someone was offering their home as a rental, they were very upset as well," she explained.
I don't know how much more I can handle.- Carinahh Robinson
"I'm not the only person who has been scammed by this. I had a friend transfer over bond plus two weeks in advance so that was over $2,000. She couldn't even get all of her money back, she only got a quarter."
After multiple rejections, an impossible wait on social housing, and a rise in depression, Ms Robinson is left with no other option than to couch surf, meaning at any minute she and her five children could be left homeless.
"I've suffered depression for a long time and it seems to be getting worse because of how hard it is to keep a roof over my children's heads," she said.
"They're way out of their routines and they're stressed just as much as I am but there's not much I can do. I've applied for social housing and there's up to a five year waitlist on that. They didn't even put me down as a priority, I don't understand why.
"There's no point in me applying for houses that are way out of my league. With my income, I can only afford up to $440 a week, and to try and get a four bedroom house within that, it's just not going to happen. And I can't leave Mudgee, moving away is not an option for me.
"I'm at my wits end on what to do."
Having faced Mudgee's harsh rental reality for some time, Ms Robinson offered two solutions; "they need to look at who is a priority" and "it'd help tremendously to have more affordable options".
"I see people around that I know of who are renting three bedroom houses through housing commission and there's only one of them, same with rentals. That three bedroom house could help a family.
"What's the Council doing? Not much. I hope they do something about it because I'm not the only one in Mudgee suffering from this.
"Council need to consider us low-income families and not just the high income earners and the tourists.
"It'd be good to see them make a change."
The Mid-Western Regional Council has been contacted for comment.
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