Under the NDIS, Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) funding is forecast to assist 28,000 Australians with their specialist housing needs by the time the scheme is fully rolled out in 2020. SDA has been specifically developed for individuals who live with extreme functional impairment or very high support needs, and this cohort represents just 6% of those who will access the NDIS. SDA has, rightfully so, been widely celebrated and welcomed by the disability and housing sectors as a desperately needed program. This is true despite a series of early implementation speed bumps and policy positions throwing a blanket over the confidence of both providers and participants seeking to enter the SDA marketplace. Reassuringly, these are issues which seem closer to being resolved as the scheme continues its roll out.
On Tuesday the 2nd of April, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg handed down a budget that I had hoped I would be describing after the event as encouraging, or even catalysing, action to increase Australia’s supply of affordable and social housing. Unfortunately this was not that budget.
In Australia, around 500,000 families live in housing stress each week. They do without necessities and make choices every day about what they or their kids will need to forego just in order to pay the rent and make ends meet. Even worse, 100,000 people sleep rough each night without shelter, a bed, or a simple door to close to give them sanctuary. These statistics are dire, particularly when you think about the country we live in – Australia, we are rich and we are resourceful. Surely these issues – this housing crisis – is something we can solve, not just simply manage.