Exploring housing options

Housing has traditionally been a topic of limited discussion for people with complex support needs, as there has been little to no choice available. 

In fact, a recent study by the Summer Foundation found the current supply of Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) across Australia was unable to support future demand created by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). This study estimates a shortage of accommodation for around 10,500 people Australia wide, with one-fifth of those in Queensland.

That is over 2,000 people living with a disability who could be unable to access housing, let alone have a choice in terms of location, housemates or standard of accommodation.

In response to this demand, more specifically modified properties are starting to be built in Queensland. The future of accommodation for people living with disability is certainly looking up as we learn of new housing opportunities opening across the state.

We spoke to CPL’s Business Transformation Manager, Angela Hegarty to get more insight into the housing situation.

“As many people already know, finding housing that is both affordable and suitable can be very difficult,” Angela said.

“Most people have a preferred geographical location and this may limit their options even further. Then, of course, even if the property itself is suitable, the key to any successful shared living arrangement also relies on the people living together being a “good match”. All of that applies to people with and without disabilities!”

It’s like using filters to refine your search results; if you add the need for modifications or 24/7 support you can imagine the number of results getting smaller and smaller.

Angela said the availability of modified accommodation has always been limited, and agrees the introduction of the NDIS is increasing demand. However, she can also see change happening.

“There is definitely growth in the number of new SDA properties. It’s the direct result of the NDIS creating new opportunities for disability support providers like CPL to deliver specifically modified properties to people who have (or are eligible for) funding,” explained Angela.

“It’s exciting to see this change and be an active part of a movement to create solutions.”

What is Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)?

Specialist Disability Accommodation(SDA) is housing specifically designed for people who have high support needs and are unable to live in mainstream housing. SDA has the potential to transform the lives of people with a disability because it allows them to live more independently.

What is Supported Independent Living (SIL)?

Supported Independent Living (SIL) is assistance with, or supervision of, daily tasks to develop a person’s skills so they can live as independently as possible. SIL is available to people who need access to 24/7 support, and they will most likely be sharing with other people.

What’s the deal with NDIS funding?

People who want to apply for SIL or SDA will need to have approval from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to say they’re eligible. The first step is to lodge a “Change of Circumstances” request with the NDIA. You will need to clearly identify that your new goal is to find suitable housing, and explain why you need to achieve this. The process isn’t difficult but it does take time and energy! A heads up for new applicants: it can take around three months from your initial application to being approved. This is because the NDIA will require functional assessments.

Are there any vacancies at the moment?

For SIL, we have a number of vacancies across our Queensland and Northern New South Wales sites. For SDA, we have existing properties in Brisbane and Toowoomba.

Tips for applying?

1. Be patient - the process will generally take a few months.

2. If you need specific modifications, for example a fully accessible bathroom, make sure you explain this to the NDIA in your application.

3. Please be aware that SIL arrangements are most commonly shared supports, so you would be living with other people.

Visit cpl.org.au/housing-options to enquire about housing with CPL, or call 1800 275 753.

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Artist's impression of a new SDA home built for CPL clients