A new report has delved into the increasing proportion of tenants with complex needs who may require support to live in private housing.
The report released by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) investigated the current social housing market and the role of policy in shaping the experience of social housing tenants and their households, including people with disability seeking accessible, affordable housing.
The construction of social housing pathways across Australia reviewed current social housing operational policies, including application processes, eligibility criteria, rent, use of premises, tenant-initiated transfers, portfolio management and tenancy management by landlords.
It also highlights the biggest factor impacting people from moving out of social housing is the availability or lack of affordable housing alternatives.
Co-Founder and Director of Disability Housing Australia, Lauren Ivanyi says one of the biggest challenges for tenants with disability is finding a home that is not only accessible but is also a private rental.
She says homes advertised on the mainstream market, such as realestate.com, mean they are often rented out to people who do not require a home with accessible features.
Through her work with Disability Housing Australia, Ms Ivanyi says there is a clear shortage in the market for private, affordable, accessible homes and a central place to search for such homes would be a good solution.
“We often receive enquiries from people looking for this solution via community housing or Government housing providers, but the general feedback is that the waitlists are long, and nothing is guaranteed unless you really make yourself heard, and the accessible features are minimal; generally not enough to make independent living easier.
“In the last two years, we have seen the accessible housing market go from strength to strength (particularly around SDA development), including three prominent online market platforms to access available tenancies for accessible housing, Disability Housing, (www.disabilityhousing.com.au) Nest and Housing hub, but there’s still work to be done.”
Ms Ivanyi believes community housing providers should be listing their vacancies or using the platforms to refer tenants who can’t be accommodated.
“Having a strong link between community/social housing providers and these platforms would make looking for alternatives across the range of different housing provider types much easier for the tenant.
“Future homes should be built to the Gold or Platinum level Liveable housing design guidelines, as more of the market would be able to stay in the properties as they age because of the provisions the houses would be built to.
“There are also opportunities through the NDIS to have home modifications done to private rentals where the tenant has had a long term lease, and plans to stay, enabling tenants to stay as their accessibility changes,” Ms Ivanyi explains.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO), Ross Joyce says people with disability face barriers in finding both accessible and affordable rental properties.
“The lack of adoption of universal design standards for our housing stock in Australia, combined with the severe shortage of social housing in all jurisdictions means that people with disability have limited options in finding suitable accessible properties to rent on their own.
“Combine this with higher rental prices and high demand for rental properties in major capital and regional cities and the prospects of renting a property on your own are even more bleak for people with disability.”
Mr Joyce says this then forces people to seek shared or less accessible accommodation which can pose safety threats, particularly for people with intellectual, psychosocial disability or women with disability.
He is calling for the Government to provide immediate funding to ensure all existing housing stock that is currently untenable is brought back to standard.
This could be achieved by providing incentives to developers, immediately developing more accessible social housing and continue to work with the private sector legislating that developers must provide a percentage of accessible social housing and rental supported properties within any residential development.
He also wants the Government to address the housing standards and legislate universal design for all housing stock in Australia.
Mr Joyce says, “This would provide greater accessibility for all Australians, particularly those with disability but recognises that we have a rapidly ageing population and the best place for anyone as you age, is to remain in your own accessible home for as long as possible.”
The report is one of three projects covering Inquiry into understanding and reimagining social housing pathways.
To read the full AHURI report click here.
Every Australian Counts has also launched a report today into Australia's disability housing crisis.
A Place I Can Proudly Call Home was developed from 650 personal stories from people with disability and their families.
Campaign Director of Every Australian Counts, John Della Bosca says if no action is taken by 2020, up to 122,000 Australians with a significant disability will be without appropriate housing.
“The crisis in disability housing has been building for the last decade, driven by the challenge created as the baby boomer generation ages and is no longer physically able to provide in-home support for their adult children with disability.
“People with disability and their families want to live in their own home, in safety and with control and autonomy over who they live with and where."
Mr Della Bosca says the report has been sent to the Disability Minister in every State and Territory.
"We want Governments to be disability housing heroes.
"We have a once in a generation opportunity to tackle the disability housing crisis – but we need action not more talk.”
To read the report click here.