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: 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 and means testing on 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 3: Support people with high and complex disability support and housing needs to access high quality Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)

To support people to access suitable SDA we recommend that:

  • The NDIA prioritise SDA payments in the packages of young people in aged care and young people at risk of entering aged care
  • The NDIA implement a communication strategy to inform NDIS participants who are or would be eligible for SDA about how to access SDA. 

Solution 4: 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. While we support the NDIS Medium-Term Accommodation payments initiative in principle, we believe there are significant issues with respect to the details:

  • To ensure that participants don’t get stuck in MTA, it is important that people’s long-term housing solutions are secured early. With very limited exceptions, a person leaving hospital or RAC should be discharged into MTA with an NDIS plan that already details (and funds) their long-term housing. Where appropriate, SDA determinations must be timely.
  • The flat rate of $126.29 per day currently set in the price guide ($176.81 remote; $189.44 very remote) may have the effect of limiting participants’ transitional options to a place in a group home or subsidised housing offered by a SIL provider. Given the high vacancy risk associated with providing MTA, we are concerned that providers of high-quality and innovative housing may be dissuaded from investing in MTA.
  • Provision of MTA funding should be flexible, so that it can be used for creative solutions such as an accessible hotel room or for short-term lease of a suitable house, apartment or unit. To enable this degree of flexibility, MTA should be put in plans as a self-managed or plan-managed line item.
  • Safeguards must be in place to ensure that MTA isn’t manipulated by providers to reduce participants’ choice and control. People leaving hospital with a newly-acquired disability are particularly vulnerable to being ‘locked in’ by providers offering housing tied with SIL supports.

For more information about our policy work around housing check out the policy submissions and reports below:
Specialist Disability Accommodation: Pathway to a Mature Market
Specialist Disability Accommodation: Supply in Australia
Joint submission: Review of the NDIS SDA Pricing and Payments Framework
Summary of the NDIA SDA Provider and Investor Brief