This project examines whether current social housing allocation and matching policies and practices meet the needs of applicants or tenants and maximise social housing sector performance and efficiency outcomes. It looks at how to optimise housing stock allocations based on individual needs (including the role of support) and neighbourhood and community needs (avoiding concentrations of disadvantage and potential antisocial behaviour).

‘Allocation’ is the rationing of access to social housing, and ‘Matching’ is the process of trying to best fit the requirement of allocated households with the attributes of the available stock—including size, location and service access, as well as in terms of community harmony and individual wellbeing.

The researchers reviewed international and Australian policy, interviewed stakeholders across four jurisdictions (Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia), and developed an evaluation framework (Social Return on Investment - SROI) for housing allocation strategies.

The international policy review suggests the choice-based lettings model could enhance tenants’ choice and reduce stigma; local allocation plans could improve tenant composition and social mix in specific neighbourhoods; policies to address underutilisation of social housing should be carefully considered; and programs integrating support services onsite to address tenants with complex needs should be more widespread. 

The research findings suggest governments should view the social housing sector as part of the larger housing market rather than as a separate, standalone system. The sector would benefit from expanding its limited target from tenants with highest need for housing integrated with other support, through to people with high need for housing but no need for other support, to people in need of affordable housing only in various forms.

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AHURI Final Report 394