Housing assistance

Housing assistance can provide vital support for people when costs associated with accessing or maintaining housing are not able to be met by the household.

What is housing assistance?

Housing assistance is generally provided through:

  • subsidised rental housing—for example, social housing
  • financial payments—for example, CRA and other support for private renters
  • specialist homelessness services.

As well as mainstream housing assistance, several initiatives specifically target people with disability. These include home modifications and Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA). SDA is accommodation provided though the NDIS to participants with extreme functional impairment or very high support needs who meet specific eligibility criteria. An estimated 6.5% of NDIS participants will require SDA. At 31 March 2020, nationally, 13,900 active participant plans include SDA.

Social housing

Over 2 in 5 (41% or about 146,000) social housing households include at least 1 person with disability (at 30 June 2019).

What is social housing?

Social housing is rental housing that is owned or managed by the government or a community organisation and let to eligible people. Social housing rents are generally set below market levels and are influenced by the income of the household.

Commonwealth Rent Assistance

One in 5 (20% or about 256,000) CRA recipients receive income support via the DSP (in 2019).

What is CRA?

CRA is a non-taxable Australian Government income supplement, received by eligible people renting in the private housing market or community housing to assist with their cost of housing.

For more information, including breakdowns by sex and age, and lists of data sources, see the full web report.

Specialist homelessness services

Around 1 in 12 (8.3% or 22,100) people who used specialist homelessness services (SHS) in 2018–19 had disability (referred to as SHS clients with disability; excluding those with unknown disability status). Around 1 in 3 (33% or 7,200) of these people had severe or profound disability (2018–19).

What are specialist homelessness services?

People who are homeless or at risk of homelessness can use SHS. These services are funded by governments to provide accommodation support to people in need, help at-risk clients to remain housed, and provide a range of services intended to support stable living conditions (such as counselling, employment or financial services).

Anyone can be affected by homelessness. However, some people, including those with disability, may have additional risk factors that increase their likelihood of experiencing homelessness, or that present added barriers to exiting homelessness.

Table HOMELESSNESS.1: Risk factors for experiencing homelessness or remaining homeless, by disability status

Risk factors for experiencing homelessness or remaining homeless

SHS clients with disability(a)

SHS clients without disability(a)

Has a mental health issue



Began support homeless (rather than at risk of homelessness)



Has experienced domestic or family violence



Misuses drugs or alcohol



Has experienced repeat homelessness



(a)  Aged 10 and over with known disability status (2018–19).

SHS clients with disability generally have a higher, and more complex, need for support than those without disability. This is reflected in their higher:

  • average number of support periods received (2.6 compared with 1.7)
  • median length of support (78 days compared with 45)
  • average number of distinct services needed (14 compared with 9.3).

Housing outcomes for SHS clients with disability generally improve following support, with fewer homeless when they leave support. Four in 10 (42%) SHS clients with disability are homeless when they start support, compared with 3 in 10 (30%) at the end of support (2018–19).

For more information, including breakdowns by sex and age, and lists of data sources, see the full web report.