A fundamental goal of the NDIS is to maximise participants’ choice and control over which support services they receive, who they receive it from and where it is delivered. The increase in overall funding for disability services, alongside the individualisation of funding—no longer tied to a specific service or home—could potentially enable a large number of NDIS participants to change their accommodation. Many might choose to move from their parents’ home, or from group homes or institutional accommodation, to independent living in the community. However there is an estimated unmet need in affordable housing for between 83 000–122 000 NDIS participants at full rollout of the scheme in 2019.
The Productivity Commission’s costings for the NDIS include a ‘user-costs of capital’ component that could, in certain circumstances, be used to subsidise housing for participants. However there is lack of policy clarity about the roles of the NDIS, Commonwealth and state governments in addressing the shortfall in housing for NDIS participants.
A demand-side approach to housing assistance for NDIS participants appears more consistent with the scheme’s overarching individualised approach, and best suited to NDIS participants who can access private housing suitable for their needs in most respects perhaps other than affordability. However, supply-side subsidies—integrated with planning, finance and design innovations—can deliver affordable housing that meets the long-term goals and needs of NDIS participants.
With appropriate design and location, capital costs of housing development can be recouped through savings on support provision. Well-designed and located housing can deliver additional benefits in terms of economic participation, social inclusion, health and wellbeing.
Unless there is an adequate supply of affordable and accessible housing, safeguards are necessary to ensure choice for people with disability. This might include, for example, a separate allocations system in social housing (and possibly choice-based allocation), and advocacy and support to assist people with disability when applying for housing.