Housing models are all about the bricks and mortar of where you can live and are not to do with support. These are physical dwellings in which a person can live. As where you live will be a fixed location, its important to think about what else is in that area. Even with the best support, people can become isolated from communities, families, friends, social networks and other support networks if they are geographically separated from the people that are important to them.

Most of us need to make considerations about where we live based on cost, and so sometimes when people want to live in a more expensive area, they need to share supports, or find another way to pay for a higher cost dwelling by themselves. Its important to note that the NDIS does not fund any rent, mortgage payments, food, utilities or other expenses which can be considered as “regular expenses”.

Home Ownership

For those few people with disability who have access to significant capital, home ownership may be an option. This will come in two forms:

Sole ownership – a person or their family are the sole owners of a property and live alone or have renters who live with them at the property.

Shared equity – two or more people/entities own a share of a property. This can take the form of a unit trust. Unit trusts are legal arrangements set out to determine who owns what component of a given property, and sets out governance for how the property is to be treated now and in the future. See more about unit trusts here.

For those with complex support needs who are SDA Eligible, The Summer Foundation has produced a resource on how to end up owning your own SDA home.

Private Rental

Private Rental is a mainstream housing model which most of us will live in at one time in our lives. Private rental can be broken into two broad categories:

Renting Alone: Those who can afford it may want to choose to live alone in a rental. Median rent for Victoria is $480.00 per week not including utilities. Those living on a Disability Support Pension generally cannot afford to pay market rent alone.

Shared Rental: Sharing private accommodation with others who may or may not have a disability and sharing the costs of rent and utilities. This may be a more suitable option for those who are on a pension, but still may not be able to afford to live in metropolitan areas, or areas where they grew up. If people are going to share a property, its highly advised that they work with their Support Coordinator, ILO provider or a trusted person to match with the other residents in the property. Matching is about meeting people and spending time with them in a range of household settings to make sure that they are able to get along. Living with your best friend isn’t always the best idea!

It is worth noting that there are services not funded by the NDIS called Private Rental Brokerage Programs. Programs like the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS). These programs set up by stage and federal governments, which can help people who are on a pension with the costs of rent.

Your Support Coordinator can support you to find a private rental, and we suggest using our (Renting Ready pack) to support your application for access to a rental. They can then support you to submit a Home and Living Request for Supports form to the NDIA to ask for the funding that you need to live in a private rental in a way that makes sense to you. Its important to talk about your support options with someone who knows what the NDIS has to offer and specialises in this area, so that you don’t end up making an uninformed decision.

People with disability who receive a Disability Support Pension are eligible for funding from Centrelink called Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) which can be used towards the cost of a rental.


Social Housing

Social Housing is the broad term that includes Public Housing, Affordable Housing, Community Housing, Crisis and Transitional Housing. Social Housing is a major provider of accommodation for those who have a disability in Australia, with forty percent or 159,000 households tenanted by people with disability. Public and Community housing providers have long wait lists of up to 7 years, although depending on your situation and disability you may be able to go onto a priority list. Applications for Social Housing can be placed through the Victorian Housing Register.

It’s important to have good advocacy when making an application for Social Housing, and to understand how to apply for priority access if you have special needs or circumstances. Your LAC or Support Coordinator will be able to help you with this. For more info, check this link

The impact the NDIS has on social housing will be profound. With portable supports coming from personal NDIS packages, more people will be looking to move into Social Housing and to bring along their own supports. As Group Homes will no longer be an option for 94% of people on the NDIS, the demand for social housing from those with a disability will increase.

In Victoria, as of 2022, there are 116,351 people living in Social Housing across 64,428 dwellings and there are 119,000 people on wait lists for Social Housing. There are on average 2 people per dwelling.

People who live in Social Housing typically pay what is called a “Reasonable Rent Contribution (RRC)”. For those on a disability pension, this usually means paying 25% of your pension in rent costs, plus all of your Commonwealth Rent Assistance. The rest of your pension needs to cover costs of food, utilities, medication and entertainment etc.

Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)

Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) – Is specially designed property to aid those with very high support needs. SDA is only for the 6% of NDIS participants with the most complex needs and who have impairments caused by their disability that a specially designed building could address.

Group Homes (CRU’s) are now considered SDA’s, which means that many people who previously had thought they would enter a group home when then got older may now not be eligible and will have to find other accommodation.
SDA does not just mean group homes however; within SDA there are four separate design categories:

Improved Liveability – For those with sensory needs or cognitive impairment.

Robust – For those who need a solid building, resilient materials and soundproofing because of their high support needs.

Fully Accessible – For those who require support with their mobility (typically wheelchair users), widened doorways and decent space to move around.

High Physical Support – For those who require support with their mobility (including electric wheelchair users), and also require a ceiling hoist and may be able to reduce the cost of hands on support through using technology such as home automation.

Within each of these design categories there are a number of Building Types. These include Group Home, Duplex/Villa/Townhouse, Detached House and Apartment – Find out more here: NDIS SDA Pricing and Payments

Getting SDA into your plan is hard to do, and requires a lot of detailed assessment by specialist therapists and report writing. Your Support Coordinator or LAC should be able to help you with this process. If your Support Coordinator isn’t experienced in supporting Participants in applying for SDA, then find one who is and split your Support Coordination hours with them.

People who live in SDA will pay a “Reasonable Rent Contribution”. This is calculated as 25% of the Disability Support Pension (DSP) and 100% of their Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA).

SDA is not a model of support. SDA refers to a Capital Support payment made from an eligible participants NDIS plan to a registered SDA provider towards the cost of accommodation.

For more information on SDA, please check this link: NDIS Website – SDA.
To see a step by step guide on the SDA Process, watch this video from The Housing Hub featuring Court Walters (Milparinka) and Jane Galvin (Participate OT). – Steps to SDA Video

Home Logo Hero White
Helping people with disabilities navigate through
NDIS requirements to find the best housing option.
Home Logo Hero White
Helping people with disabilities
navigate through NDIS requirements
to find the best housing option.
Home Logo Hero White
Helping people with
disabilities navigate
through NDIS
requirements to find
the best housing option.