Many people with disability are living in aged care because of the shortage of accessible and affordable housing. People with complex needs are worst affected.
There is a critical need for new housing options that are close to shops, services and public transport. Well-located housing is often unaffordable or not designed for people with mobility impairments.
The Summer Foundation advocates for policies that will increase accessible and affordable housing options and reduce the number of young people forced to live in aged care.
Solution 1: Implementation of the Livable Housing Australia (LHA) Silver standard, across all jurisdictions
Regulation is essential for the future growth of accessible housing. A decision was made by state and federal building ministers on 30 April 2021 to make Livable Housing Australia’s Silver standard mandatory in the National Construction Code. This is a significant achievement for all Australians including people with disability and older Australians.
This change will mean that from September 2022, all new residential housing will be required to comply with seven new standards:
- A safe continuous and step free path of travel from the street entrance and/or parking area to a dwelling entrance that is level.
- At least one, level (step-free) entrance into the dwelling.
- Internal doors and corridors that facilitate comfortable and unimpeded movement between spaces.
- A toilet on the ground (or entry) level that provides easy access.
- A bathroom that contains a hobless shower recess.
- Reinforced walls around the toilet, shower and bath to support the safe installation of grab rails at a later date.
- Stairways designed to reduce the likelihood of injury and also enable future adaptation.
Although this is an important step in the right direction, further work is needed to implement these new standards and ensure they are applied consistently and appropriately across Australia.
Solution 2: Increase investment in accessible and affordable housing and implement policy that will enable more people with disability to access housing
People with disability and their families want to live in the community. Increased investment in accessible and affordable housing is essential. It will also reduce demand for Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA), which is only intended for 6% of NDIS participants.
Changes to government policy are needed to maximise housing opportunities by:
- Increasing investment in social housing and ensuring 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 disability 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:
- The NDIA prioritises SDA payments for young people in aged care or at risk of entering aged care
- The NDIA tells NDIS participants about 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 there is a significant time 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 (MTA) payments initiative, we believe there are significant issues with it:
- To ensure participants don’t get stuck in MTA their long-term housing solutions need to be secured early. With very few 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 limit 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 providers of high-quality and innovative housing may not invest in MTA.
- Provision of MTA funding should be flexible, so 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 flexibility, MTA should be put in plans as a self-managed or plan-managed line item.
- Safeguards must be in place to ensure 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:
Kirby’s SDA journey to her new home
Kirby finally has her own space again, making her own choices. See how SDA has helped Kirby’s dream to live independently again in her own home.
Shane Curry RAC to SDA
Shane’s new apartment has enabled him to reconnect with his children – “It feels good to be a dad and have that responsibility again.”