Housing – Policy

Many people with disability are living in aged care because there is a chronic shortage of accessible and affordable housing available to them, particularly for people with complex support needs.

There is a critical need for new housing options that are close to shops, services and public transport, both for ease of access and also because a disproportionate number of people with disability are on low incomes. But well-located housing is often unaffordable or not designed for people with mobility impairments.

The Summer Foundation advocates for policy solutions that will increase accessible and affordable housing options and reduce the number of young people being forced to live in aged care.

Solution 1: Amend the National Construction Code to require all new housing to be built according to Livable Housing Australia (LHA) Gold standard

Regulation is essential for the future growth of accessible housing, as voluntary standards have failed to create an adequate supply of accessible housing. Gold standard in all new dwellings will allow more Australians to age in place and more easily modify their house for greater accessibility should it be required.

Solution 2: Develop an appropriate design framework to meet the specific housing needs of people with high physical support needs

The current LHA guidelines and Australian Standards do not adequately meet the needs of people with high physical support needs. A new design framework would include the information the housing sector and SDA providers need to build housing suitable for people requiring high physical support. This new standard could draw on the learnings from the Summer Foundation’s housing demonstration projects.

The development of a new Australian Standard for accessible housing would streamline the design process and result in improved outcomes and housing options for people with significant disabilities. Ideally, the standard would provide a mixture of design compliance and design guidance, leading to highly accessible home environments, which are adaptable and meet the changing needs of various occupants with significant disability.

Solution 3: Increase investment in accessible and affordable housing and implement policy that will enable more people with disabilities to access housing

People with disabilities and their families are seeking community-based mainstream solutions to their housing needs. Increased investment in accessible and affordable housing is essential and will reduce demand for Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA), which is only intended to meet the housing needs of 6% of NDIS participants. Changes to government policy are needed to maximise housing opportunities by:

  • Increasing investment in social housing and ensuring that all social housing is built to a minimum LHA Gold standard
  • Requiring accessible housing to be included in all new housing developments
  • Enabling home ownership by people with disabilities through mixed equity
  • Removing the red tape governing Special Disability Trusts
  • Freeing up land owned by governments and not-for-profit-organisations for accessible and affordable housing
  • Establishing community land trusts to benefit disadvantaged groups and to achieve urban renewal

Solution 4: Support SDA market readiness

To encourage the development of the SDA market we recommend that:

    • The NDIA prioritise SDA payments in the packages of young people in aged care
    • The NDIA, housing providers and financiers should work closely to examine the level of confidence that investors have in developing housing through the NDIS payments framework. Where there is high investment risk (especially in regional and remote areas), governments should develop alternative strategies to reduce risk and encourage investment
    • The government develops an effective national approach to quality and safeguards to provide clarity with respect to the roles and responsibilities of SDA providers
    • The NDIA provides funding certainty around the SDA payments into the future

Solution 5: Invest in transitional housing

Investment is needed into transitional housing that provides an immediate solution to those at risk of aged care entry. We know that there is a significant time gap between needing home modifications and having these completed. Transitional housing is needed to address this problem. Pricing for transitional housing needs to compensate for a higher level of vacancies than longer term SDA.

For more information about our policy work around housing check out the policy submissions below:
Specialist Disability Accommodation: Pathway to a Mature Market
Senate Inquiry National Disability Strategy 2017 Submission
Rights in Specialist Disability Accommodation Submission
Specialist Disability Accommodation: Supply in Australia
Review of the NDIS SD Pricing and Payments Framework