Ms May* has worked almost her entire life, she has owned a few businesses and only four years ago owned her own home.
Now at 55, she is facing homelessness, just weeks out from Christmas.
She tells a story of desperation and fear that is becoming horrifyingly common as hundreds feel the housing squeeze in Ballarat, with rental vacancies at a record low.
The rental vacancy rate in Ballarat dropped to 0.7 per cent in November, the lowest regional rate in the state.
Ms May has been struggling to secure housing since August when the landlord she had been renting with for three years ended their lease agreement to complete renovations.
The friend she has been staying with has family visiting at Christmas and she needs to be out of the house by the end of the week.
Im terrified, she said.
I have applied for so many rentals and been tossed between so many welfare agencies. Theres this feeling of falling through the cracks.
Ms May has been on the disability support pension since she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 15 years ago, but continued to work casually during that period while living in her own home.
In 2016, her health took a downward turn when her multiple sclerosis flared up and she found herself in hospital for almost a year.
The day after having an operation, she signed the papers to sell her house.
I should never have sold it. I wouldnt be in the position I am in now, she said.
After leaving hospital Ms May lived in a rental in Ballarat for three years, rebuilding her health, confidence and skills to get back to work by volunteering and completing short courses.
Ms May said she had almost reached improvements with her health to get back to work, but both her physical and mental health has deteriorated since being forced out of her rental property.
I am not after a handout, just a hand up.Ms May
Since August she has been consumed by the stress of finding a home and the cost of driving from her friends house in Broadmeadows to Ballarat almost every day for inspections and meetings with welfare agencies.
There have been 20 odd people every rental inspection I have been to. A couple who are both working will get a property before me, a family will too. Im looking at having to go into a share house, she said.
Im putting in so many applications for housing. Im just so frustrated. What am I doing wrong?
Six months floating around the world is enough for me, somebody just has to give me a chance.
Ms May has been in contact with welfare agencies in Ballarat and surrounding areas for assistance.
She has now been put on the priority housing list with Uniting Ballarat, but was told it could be at least six years until public housing became available.
More than 100 people are on the priority housing list in Ballarat.
Uniting Ballarat Street 2 Home coordinator Adam Liversage said housing was allocated according to priority, with those who have been sleeping rough for a number of years at the top of the list.
He said the length of time someone could wait for housing depended on their age, length of time homeless and safety risk.
How long is a piece of string? Sometimes it could be a year or it could be 10 to 15 years before someone is given public housing depending on vacancies, he said.
There is a lack of supply. It comes down to basic housing stock and affordable rentals. There is not enough housing stock.
The answer is we need more housing, that is basically what it comes down to. It is a simple solution.
The Victorian Labor party promised Ballarat would receive a share of 1000 new public houses in October in the lead up to the state election.
Welfare advocates say it will not be enough.
The Council to Homeless Persons has been lobbying for 3000 new public housing properties per year for 10 years, with 1500 of those one and two bedroom homes.
Ms May is desperate to find a home, so she can work to improve her health, get back to work and start writing the book she has had in her mind for years.
I have so many stories to tell. Every day I wake up and its like a new chapter, she said.
I feel like Im at breaking point. Im so tired. I dont know what Im going to do. Im resourceful but this is in the too hard basket for me even.
I am not after a handout, just a hand up and I will put back into the community as much as I can. If I can just get my foot in the saddle I know I will make everyone proud.
*not her real name
- If you are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness you can ring the 24-hour Victorian hot-line for assistance, 1800 825 955.