A study, commissioned by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) and conducted by the University of South Australia (UniSA) and the University of Tasmania, has found that limited access to information about the disability housing sector has hindered investment opportunities.
According to AHURI, the Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) program, designed to increase housing for people with disability, has encountered financing difficulties because the market has been perceived as being “highly uncertain”.
“We interviewed people in major Australian banks, specialised finance providers, large property developers, community housing providers and consultants working across the industry and found a number of risks and issues that restricted their involvement with SDA,” lead researcher at UniSA Professor Andrew Beer said.
“These risks included a lack of high-quality data on both the current supply of dwellings and the number of NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) packages being approved, as well as concern about whether the government would guarantee the long-term funding of SDA into the future.”
Respondents also observed that the specialised nature of disability housing, as well as the eligibility of tenants, makes it difficult to price and hence difficult to value.
Professor Beer urged the government to take responsibility for the growth and development of the disability housing sector.
“The most effective solution would be for government agencies, including the National Disability Insurance Agency, to take on a stewardship role and actively work to shape the emerging SDA market,” Professor Beer said.
“Government needs to create the conditions that make all the elements of SDA both possible and available to those Australians living with disability who are eligible.”
Other solutions identified by the research include the need to organise and distribute information across the sector, with key information around demand and supply.
Also flagged as a potential solution are: the provision of templates and assessment tools to planners in order to clarify and streamline decision-making, and greater clarity surrounding roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, including the collection of data and how to facilitate flexibility when clients’ needs and desires change over time.