Urgent investment needed in accessible and affordable social housing
Every person has the right to an adequate standard of living, which includes the right to appropriate housing. (1) Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities sets out the rights of people living with disability to live independently and to “have the opportunity to choose their place of residence and where and with whom they live on an equal basis with others and are not obliged to live in a particular living arrangement.”
According to the Australian Urban Housing & Research Institute, adults living with disability “experience more housing disadvantage than their non-disabled counterparts, including homelessness, poor-quality housing, and housing unaffordability.”(2) Social housing is an important mechanism through which many people, including people living with disability, find a home. However, research conducted by the Grattan Institute in 2021 found that Australia’s accessible housing stock has barely grown over the last 30 years, and that the current 430,000 dwellings considered accessible housing now represent only 4 percent of all housing in Australia. (3)
The time for providing longer-term and cheaper finance options for community and affordable housing providers to build accessible social housing has proven to be completely ineffective in addressing our accessible and affordable housing crisis. So, too has the Federal Government’s stance that housing policies fall solely to the responsibility of the State. Furthermore, the South Australian Government’s detrimental decision to so far decline to implement minimum mandatory accessible requirements for all new residential builds as outlined in the updated National Construction Code 2022, further exacerbates the issue; severely reducing the availability of suitable housing options for people living with disability, fails to prepare South Australia for the needs of our ageing population and continues to present significant barriers for people living with disability from participating in mainstream community life to the benefit of us all.
JFA Purple Orange acknowledges the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) introduction of Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) in July 2016, which in theory, was aimed at creating more accessible and affordable living options for people living with disability (giving them choice and control), as well as strengthening the housing sector. However, so far we are yet to see the desired outcomes transpire in South Australia for reasons including (but not limited to) administration burdens on NDIS participants, significant budget approval delays by the NDIA, uncertainty and associated risks from housing providers, and a lack of communication and information sharing between the NDIA, State Government and housing providers. Also, current trends in SDA development create the risk of building a new generation of group homes, a model entirely unsuited to Australia’s ambitions for its disabled citizens, and SDA does not serve the 94% of the disability community who are ineligible for it.
It is time for us to all work together to address the increasing prevalence of inaccessible, unaffordable and neglected housing options for people living with disability and give them back the power to live in housing options of their choice, free from group homes and institutional settings.
In the lead up to the federal election, JFA Purple Orange is calling on all political parties and candidates to commit to:
- A direct investment to build accessible and affordable social housing that complies with the minimum accessibility standards set out in the updated National Construction Code 2022
- Developing a Strategy to boost accessible, affordable housing in South Australia which includes the Federal and State Governments, as well as the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), working together to address demand and reduce the administrative burden on people living with disability accessing vital funding for appropriate accommodation (for example SDA) through their NDIS plans
- Improve data sharing between the NDIA, Federal Government, State Government and community and affordable housing providers, to provide a clearer picture of the level of demand for accessible housing by people living with disability, including the type of housing being sought (level of accessibility) and geographical locations of demand
- No longer fund group homes that accommodate two or more people who are forced to live together by circumstance, not by choice
- Continued investments in ensuring sufficient and appropriate wraparound supports and flexible housing solutions (such as Individualised Living Options) to allow people living with disability to live in a home of their choosing.
Will you commit to directly investing in accessible and affordable social housing that complies with the minimum accessibility standards set out in the updated National Construction Code 2022?
For further information, please contact Robbi Williams, CEO of JFA Purple Orange, on
(08) 8373 8333 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(1) Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
(2) Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, Precarious Housing and Wellbeing: a multi-dimensional investigation, February 2022, available at: https://www.ahuri.edu.au/sites/default/files/documents/2022-02/AHURI-Final-Report-373-Precarious-housing-and-wellbeing-a-multi-dimensional-investigation.pdf