How many receive housing assistance?

Housing assistance can provide vital support for people with disability 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:

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

In addition to mainstream housing assistance, there are several initiatives aimed specifically at people with disability. These include Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) provided though the NDIS to participants with extreme functional impairment or very high support needs who meet specific eligibility criteria. It is estimated that up to 28,000 participants who have a significant functional impairment and/or very high support needs will be eligible for SDA once the NDIS implementation is complete.

How many are in social housing?

Over 2 in 5 (42% or about 152,000) social housing households include a person with disability (at June 2018).

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 persons. Social housing rents are generally set below market levels and are influenced by the income of the household.

How many receive CRA?

One in 5 (20% or about 259,000) CRA recipients receive income support via the Disability Support Pension (DSP) (at June 2018).

What is CRA?

Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) is an Australian Government payment, received by people on low or moderate incomes who are renting in the private housing market, to assist with the cost of housing.

How many receive specialist homelessness services?

Around 1 in 12 (8.1% or 23,400) people who use specialist homelessness services have disability (referred to as SHS clients with disability) (in 2017–18). Around 1 in 3 (34% or 7,900) of these have severe or profound disability.

What are specialist homelessness services?

People with disability who are homeless or at risk of homelessness can use specialist homelessness services (SHS). These services are funded by government 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 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 provide additional barriers to exiting homelessness.

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

Risk factors for experiencing or remaining homeless

SHS clients
with disability

SHS clients
without disability

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



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)
  • higher median length of support (75 days compared with 44 days)
  • higher average number of distinct services needed (14.6 compared with 9.6).

Housing outcomes for SHS clients with disability generally improve following support, with fewer homeless when they leave support. Overall, almost half (46%) of SHS clients with disability are homeless when they start support, compared with one-third (33%) at the end of support.