Musawer Bajwa was at a crossroads in his life. He could either continue his passion for research or have a roof over his head.
He and his wife were struggling to afford the rent on their Mt Druitt unit in western Sydney while on an affordable housing waitlist.
When the owners of the rental property said they were selling the unit and the couple would need to move, Mr Bajwa reflected on his future.
That's when community housing provider Link Wentworth stepped in.
Link Wentworth CEO Andrew McAnulty spent 15 years working in London's community housing sector before moving to Australia. He said instead of a 'silver bullet', Australia urgently needed to 'get on with it'.
"If every local government identified the needs in their area and identified one or two sites per year that they can bring forward for a community housing provider to buy, you start to get things happening," he said.
"Rather than thinking you can't do anything or thinking the problem is too big."
Mr Bajwa was grateful for affordable housing provided by Link Wentworth.
"That's when I thought 'ok, I can actually do this'. I can actually continue my research," he said.
Mr Bajwa migrated to Australia from Pakistan as a refugee. He pursued humanitarian work before following his passion for astrophysics.
"I didn't know until I came to Australia that could be a career because the opportunity to be an astrophysicist is not there in Pakistan," Mr Bajwa said.
As a young child he would go on early morning walks to admire the stars. He still does.
"It's a very humbling experience ... if you look out towards the vastness of the universe, we're all just tiny beings and we're all equal in that regard," he said.
While his study and research work is rewarding, it's not a well-paid job and 'we survive on stipend and scholarship'.
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The 29-year-old is now financially-positioned to transition back to the private housing market as he continues his study in radio astronomy. He drives an Uber on weekends to support his wife and 15-month-old son.
"He's a great example of investing in someone's housing [for a] short period of time where they can follow their dream in their qualification...and then be a massive tax beneficiary to the country and deliver great things in the future," Mr McAnulty said.
"Stable housing is an important refuge for people at different times in their life. It doesn't need to be forever."
Mr McAnulty said more people were seeking assistance than ever.
Currently, 60,000 households are on a waitlist for social and affordable housing across NSW alone.
"We're seeing people who are working in good jobs that can't afford rentals, can't afford access to the private market and are being squeezed out."
This comes as the federal government seeks support to pass the proposed $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund that would provide 30,000 new social and affordable housing properties in five years.
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