A man who is legally blind was put into temporary accommodation with stairs that he eventually fell down after being forced to leave his Housing NSW home because it was infested with bed bugs.
The "nightmare" scenario Colin Marlow has faced is one that he says has driven him to despair.
"They've taken every aspect of my life away from me, what the hell have I got to live for - let alone fight for," he said.
"In the dismal quality of life I'd already accepted … I'll be the lonely blind man possibly missing a foot."
Hospitalised from the stair fall with serious blood clots and covered in bites from "months" of suffering inside his own unit, Mr Marlow reluctantly spoke to the Newcastle Herald on Friday in the hope of change.
The 43-year-old moved back to Newcastle in August, after living in Tamworth for eight years - a period he spent desperately seeking a return to the Hunter.
His living conditions there in community housing were "terrible", so when he was finally offered the chance to return back to his "home" in Newcastle, he looked forward to a fresh start.
But within days of living in his new Housing NSW unit at Jesmond, the fresh start became fresh wounds when bugs started biting him.
"I thought it was fleas," he said. "The carpet in the majority of the unit is soaked with years of dog waste.
"The previous tenant had left it infested with the bugs. The department of housing knew about it and didn't even turn up for an inspection and refused to acknowledge any phone calls.
"I've got six per cent eyesight, I couldn't find them."
In his first week in the unit, Mr Marlow had a Housing NSW contractor repair a ceiling leak, which involved the removal of a kitchen light.
"I went four months without the light in the kitchen," he said. "They came and took the light out and patched up the roof … and then [never replaced it]. I didn't dare ring up and ask for the light to get replaced because I'd get put on the "shit" list, be known as the one who complains."
One of Mr Marlow's disability support workers called Housing NSW about four months later to report the bugs and the light, which the department had fixed the next day.
What wasn't fixed though, was the bug infestation.
"There was no job logged for pest control, at all," Mr Marlow said. "They finally done it and sent the bloke round … [but] it was very close to nothing happening."
The contracted pest inspector condemned the unit, and told Mr Marlow it was one of the worst infestations he had ever seen.
"Friends coming from all over … they all stopped visiting because they'd be going home with bites all over them," Mr Marlow said.
"No one wants to take them home with them. It has been a nightmare. They're more active at night, I only ever slept in the bedroom a couple of times. At night time, I couldn't sleep. It puts a real strain on every aspect of your life."
For the past six weeks, Mr Marlow has been living in temporary accommodation at a motel in Mayfield West.
He says on the first night there, someone knocked on his door and asked if he could help them "shoot up". He also says there have been prostitutes staying and working in motels rooms either side of his own.
Without his instruments, the professional musician has found it tough to keep himself occupied. Without the pet birds he considers his companions, he has felt isolated. And being in a new suburb without knowledge of what is around, he has rarely been out of his motel room, having taken a fall on his first attempt to walk to the local shops.
A rare reprieve came on his birthday last week when three of his birds were brought around. But as Mr Marlow was carrying one of the cages out to a taxi to send the birds back to a friend's place, he fell down a set of stairs and injured his foot. He was dealt a double blow when he found out the taxi driver had dropped the cage at his friend's house and the bird had flown away.
Mr Marlow spent last week in hospital receiving treatment for his injured foot and blood clots. He is still covered in bite marks from the bed bugs, despite having not lived in the Jesmond unit for about seven weeks
A spokesperson for Family and Community Services, the state government department which oversees Housing NSW, said it was working to secure a new property for Mr Marlow.
"The safety of our social housing tenants is our number one priority," the spokesperson said.
"After it was confirmed the property required quarantining from bedbugs, the tenant was temporarily moved to alternative accommodation. FACS is actively sourcing a suitable alternative property as the complex treatment for bedbugs is undertaken, including treatment of the tenant’s personal belongings."
Mr Marlow says he will return to the unit but he wants his furniture and belongings replaced. "I planned on never moving again and really re-establishing myself here," he said.
A NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing will also be held next Tuesday, where Mr Marlow will seek compensation, or at least replacement costs of furniture and belongings. Disability Advocacy NSW, and Hunter Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service, will attend the hearing.
Housing NSW moved Mr Marlow into a motel at Jesmond on Monday.