City West Stories – Lisa

City West Stories – Lisa

Letters from the Landlord

Lisa had been living in Glebe for 11 years when she received a letter from her landlord that the apartment complex she was living in had been sold. Not knowing what this meant for her current housing, Lisa soon found out it she was going to incur a whopping $160 a week rent increase.

Lisa was in her 60’s by this stage and working 10-12 hour days as a shift worker. Lisa came to the realisation that the new rent was not sustainable and made the decision to move. “I had anxiety every time I got a letter what it would mean, whether the landlord was selling or putting up the rent as I had experienced both.” However, with work and life circumstances it was no easy feat to find a safe, affordable apartment in the city.

Lisa put her belongings in storage and was staying with a friend when she received an offer from CWH.

Perfect timing

Working in Pyrmont, Lisa had met many CWH residents. She had submitted an application years earlier but had not followed this up as she felt comfortable where she lived at the time. A month after she had moved out of her apartment of 11 years she received a call from CWH about a new development in Zetland that was ready to be tenanted. “I almost cried I was so happy.” Lisa was offered an apartment on the fifth floor and jumped at the chance, “I loved the natural light and view, my old apartment was so dark.”

Lisa has now been a CWH resident for over three years and loves the security of having a safe, stable place to call home. “It took me a long time to get rid of the anxiety whenever I received a letter from my new landlord (CWH) but in time I’ve come to trust that this is for the long term.”

Over the last year, Lisa has been hit with some considerable health issues, receiving three different cancer diagnoses. Unlike the private rental market, Lisa never has to worry about unaffordable rents in times of hardship. “I’ve also made some wonderful friends here. Friends that drive me to my appointments and support me when I need them… they’re not just neighbours.”

Art therapy

In 2010 after quitting smoking, Lisa first picked up a pen to keep her hands busy. “I carried a notebook everywhere I went and did little sketches whenever I felt compelled.”Soon this hobby developed and she attended life drawing workshops at the Friend in Hand Hotel, Glebe.

After a while, Lisa struggled to keep attending the workshops due to long work hours and life stresses. “I had another idea, I picked up a bunch of magazines and started drawing faces.”Lisa found her own personal style, but something was lacking in the magazines’ airbrushed images. “I found a photo of an older woman, she was very stylish but you could tell she was aged due to the unique lines on her face… I drew a million drawings from the same photo, all different.” For Lisa, she found inspiration in the plain beauty of a person’s untouched face, which is far from what we see today in photos or magazines.

Lisa has now drawn hundreds of unique faces and experimented with watercolours and charcoal. She makes cards and recently had an exhibit at the SoArt Gallery, in Narooma. When she saw Buku Eatery (located at CWH’s Exordium Apartments Zetland) had a blank wall she seized the opportunity. “David said to bring down a couple of pieces to show him my work, my daughter and I filled a whole trolley.” Her displays have been hanging in Buku now for six months.

Affordable housing

Lisa commented on what affordable housing means for urban areas.“It just makes sense to me, when we have people working in the city who have it tough. They need somewhere affordable to live, without travelling an hour.”

If you have a story you would like to share please contact us on

Follow Us On


Do you want to hear the latest news from City West Housing? Subscribe to our CWH Connect newsletter.


Our office is open 8 am - 4 pm Monday to Friday.
Please make an appointment if you wish to meet with your Housing Manager.