It’s difficult enough to figure out housing in the best of times, but what happens when there are circumstances that make it even harder to find a place to live?
Thanks to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, commonly known as the NDIS, it’s becoming easier for more people of all abilities to realise their dreams of living independently.
We understand that navigating the NDIS can sometimes be overwhelming. At Lifeplan, we’ve compiled a list of common questions and answers about NDIS housing so you can find the information you need easily!
What Is the Difference Between the NDIS and Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)?
NDIS assistance is available for Australian residents between the ages of 7 and 65 who, due to a permanent and significant disability, require assistance to ensure their needs are met.
SDA, or Specialist Disability Accommodation, is available to a small percentage of NDIS participants, usually those who require a higher level of support.
What Kind of Assistance Can the NDIS Provide?
While the NDIS does not provide funding for rent or other similar costs (i.e. groceries, utilities, and internet), it will often fund supports that help people of all abilities live independently. Funding varies depending on the level of support an individual requires. Independent living services that are offered include:
- NDIS home modifications such as ramps and rails
- Household items (such as furniture) that are necessary for quality of life
- Support workers for assistance showering, maintaining the property, etc.
- Behavioural and social supports
- Life skill education classes such as cooking, budgeting, etc.
In addition to this, even though the NDIS does not fund housing, it may fund the search for more suitable housing. It is important to talk to your Planner or Support Coordinator to find out what is available to you.
What Kind of Assistance Can SDA Provide?
SDA housing is specifically designed for those persons who are living with extreme impairments or who have high support needs. As such, it’s only available to a small number of people within the NDIS. Specialist Disability Accommodation covers rent in the form of payments, which are provided through the NDIS to an approved housing provider who ensures the home is suitable.
Specialist Disability Accommodation funding covers ability-related housing costs – but it doesn’t cover everything. It provides for anything above the ordinary costs of housing. Tenants are still expected to contribute funds, but with Specialist Disability Accommodation assistance it is much easier not only to find a comfortable and functional home but to be able to afford it as well.
It is important to note that Specialist Disability Accommodation does NOT cover the cost of in-home supports as these do not fall under the domain of the housing provider.
How Likely Am I to Qualify for SDA?
Due to the great demand and short availability, not all NDIS participants will qualify for Specialist Disability Accommodation support. Only 6% of participants will receive housing assistance in the form of SDA support. If you are wondering whether you may qualify for housing assistance consider that there are several factors that may make qualification more likely:
- If the participant requires support during most of the day
- If the participant has an extreme functional impairment
- If the participant has previously received SDA assistance
While there is no guarantee that participants will receive Specialist Disability Accommodation, it is more likely to occur when the above instances occur.
What Housing Options Do I Have with the NDIS?
Though the NDIS does not provide financial assistance when it comes to independent living, that does not mean that there are no housing options available. Mainstream housing is any housing option that is not a Specialist Disability Accommodation funded living space and is, therefore, open to all Australians regardless of ability.
There are a variety of mainstream housing options available:
- Private rental/house sharing – renting your own home from an independent landlord, either by yourself or with others, this option may reduce costs and increase control over housemates and location
- Cooperative housing – housing managed by a group of people working together
- Public housing – an income-eligible option available through state governments
- Community housing – owned and managed by a not-for-profit organisation
- Rooming – a rented room that often shares the kitchen, bathroom, and other areas with others
- Own/family home – staying in your own or a family home with relations
It is important to remember that the NDIS still provides support for individuals staying in mainstream housing.
What Should I Consider Before Deciding Where to Live?
Not all housing is created equal! Regardless of whether you will be living in mainstream or SDA housing, there are several things you need to consider before settling on a place to live:
- Location – are you close to family and friends? Are you close to an NDIS office? To work, shops, and doctors?
- Other occupants – are you planning on housemates or living by yourself? Will there be family with you? 24-7 support?
- Level of support – what kind of support do you need to ensure a good quality of life? What types of support are you looking for?
- Future goals – how long will you be staying in this house?
What Are the Benefits of Living More Independently?
If all these questions have made you wonder if independent living is worth the effort, we can assure you that it is! There are many benefits to living independently and we often see the empowering and positive change it has on a person’s life. Independent living not only gives you the freedom to make choices for yourself, but it also brings you joy, confidence, and experience. These are the types of benefits that stay with you for life!
Lifeplan and the NDIS are here to help individuals obtain these benefits through a variety of supports. With such a variety of options, we are certain that every person will be able to find some plan that will allow them to fulfil their dream of living independently.
Will All My Support Come Through One Organisation?
Supported Independent Living (SIL) costs are no longer required to be provided by the housing provider. No matter what program you are involved with, however, in-home care is still available through a variety of means.
Some Specialist Disability Accommodation providers also offer living support. If this is not the case, support may also come from family, a private party, or through the NDIS.
What Steps Do I Take Next?
Once you are aware of the options that are available to you it is important for you and your family or caregivers to speak with an NDIS representative. Together you will go over your housing preferences and create a plan for housing and supports.
After this meeting, it is time to look for a place to live. You can do this unassisted or, if that is not possible, request funding from NDIS.
If you can find the housing you need, great. If not, you may be eligible for Specialist Disability Accommodation. Once a house is found you will be able to consider what NDIS home modifications and supports you may require and request these. Once that is done, you’re ready to move in!
It’s Time for Independence
NDIS is working hard to help people of all abilities achieve the dream of independent living. Whether it be through Specialist Disability Accommodation housing, home modifications from NDIS, or in-home support, NDIS housing is changing lives for the better.
Here at Lifeplan we fully believe in supporting individuals of all abilities as they strive to become more independent – and with the programs and assistance outlined in this article, we fully believe we can help you!