Imagine living in a one-bedroom place with your elderly parents who both have dementia. This was Karmen Fitzgerald and her partner William ToeToe's reality for six months.
The Rotorua couple are the main caregivers for Karmen's parents Algordon, 82, and his wife Joanne, 83.
Karmen said ending up homeless was not in her master plan but they moved into a caravan last year after the landlord decided to rent their two-unit apartment to family.
A decision to bring her parents south from Waihī instead of putting them into a rest home meant they were shifted into an emergency accommodation provider in February.
It was ''a living nightmare'' due to her mother and fathers' needs.
''My parents felt like they were in jail.
''They also had to sleep in the lounge because my father had 'Romeo feet' and he kept escaping every chance he got.''
Algordon and Joanne were often afraid due to ''the fighting and arguments from other residents'' who caused them to scream at the top of their lungs.
''So I had to keep them quiet and calm even though they were frightened.''
Both Karmen and William agreed, unfortunately, a small minority of fellow homeless tenants were drinking, doing drugs and having domestic disputes.
Meanwhile, the stress of living in the small space took a toll on their relationship.
''It was a big strain for a while and we broke it off a few times.''
But their luck changed in July after the family was placed into a transitional house before securing a state home earlier this month.
Today Karmen and William can't stop grinning as they re-tell their story from the kitchen table in a brand new two-bedroom house.
The house is spick and span with pictures on the walls, personal knick-knacks and an old-styled china cabinet that takes pride of place in the sunlit lounge.
''I am so grateful and can't thank Housing New Zealand enough,'' Karmen said.
Paul Fitzgerald from Housing New Zealand said the best part of his job was getting people into houses.
''We deal with a lot of hard stuff so when you get people like Karmen and William that is like a shot in the arm that re-energises us.''
Waving his arm in the air he said they ''have made this a home - it's just beautiful''.