Housing for People with Disability
8th of August, 2018
by Brendan Dunphy, BLD Communication
Like the housing availability challenges facing those in Sydney’s overheated and indeed overpriced market, so are the housing availability challenges facing those with disability.
To put scope around this topic and give some base information to those currently seeking or planning to look at disability housing, we will endeavour to provide some background on Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA), as well as NDIS funding in the scheme and some of the logistical challenges of driving this enormous project.
We know we won’t have all the answers here and encourage those that are finding this process frustrating or confusing to talk to us directly at NADO or their LAC or Support Coordinator so they can secure additional information and support.
So what is Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)?
In simple terms, those people with a certain level of disability require special accommodation that enables them to receive the support they need. The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) refers to this as Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA).
Those who are assessed as needing SDA as part of their reasonable and necessary support may receive funding from the NDIS to help cover the costs of their SDA.
Overall, the NDIS is committed to ensuring SDA provides homes for people with very high needs and not just simply a building where they live. SDA homes may range from a purpose built apartment in a mixed development through to a modified free-standing house.
Some eligibility points for clarity
It’s important to note that SDA is not housing for all people with a disability. There are a significant number of people with disability in Australia who require some form of accommodation assistance but do not need or meet SDA requirements.
The NDIS funding for SDA is only for people under 65 with very high disability support needs. This equates to around 6 per cent of all NDIS participants – currently about 28,000 people.
This said NDIS participants who do not need or meet SDA requirements will still be able to discuss purchasing equipment, home-modifications or an assistive technology that helps them to adapt their current accommodation through the planning process.
Those that are eligible for SDA funding via the NDIS should be aware that the amount included in a plan will depend on a range of factors including the type of building you require, how many people you will live with, its location and any additional features.
The importance of the SDA
Creating housing is one of the most important tasks for the NDIS. It’s especially important for the young people living in aged care and the adults with disability living with ageing parents.
More than 6,200 young people are living in aged care, with 2,000 young people entering aged care annually. In some parts of the country, young people occupy more than 20 per cent of all aged care places.
This clearly needs to change.
The government and the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), which oversees the NDIS, have done well in regard to setting up this new funding stream. The new SDA rules under the NDIS Act took effect in March 2017. This means the process has now moved from policy design to implementation.
The current goal (of course) is to ensure sure that this well-funded SDA program delivers new housing on the ground.
The good news is that the market is responding with SDA housing being built in cities across Australia. Large retail banks, businesses and superannuation funds are reviewing SDA transactions and large developers are including SDA builds in some new developments.
So what are the current challenges?
The next step is for government to work with stakeholders in the market — including investors and the housing sector — to create the level of housing that Australians with disability and their families have been waiting for.
For this to happen there are, of course, a plethora of challenges including eligibility, logistics and financial disbursement.
On the construction front – and while it is good news that business investment is now starting to see buildings reach completion stage – red-tape and ambiguity around eligibility is causing occupancy problems.
In regard to eligibility, the NDIS (via the SDA) needs to continue to manage and streamline this process to get clarity around all of their specific eligibility and assessment requirements.
In NADO’s own experience, our partnership with Independent Living Villages is now seeing apartment-style residences nearing completion in the Penrith LGA. As an organisation, we have and continue to promote the opportunity and assist people through the assessment process, however, we urge people who are interested to factor in the time it will take to go through what is currently, a lengthy process.
So what should you do?
If you are in process of, or thinking of looking at SDA, don’t get disheartened!
Like every major project that has government involvement, the wheels do turn, but often with infinite slowness. If you are interested, talk to your f LAC or Support Coordinator or, of course, contact us here at NADO.
For more information regarding SDA, please click the link below: