The Right Home: The Housing Needs of People With Disability

Access to housing is a fundamental human right, yet it remains an obstacle for many individuals living with a disability. Approximately 4.4 million people in Australia have a disability, with over 1 million facing limitations that impact their ability to lead independent lives. Some individuals require assistance with daily tasks, such as self-care and mobility, and therefore are needing specialised living spaces.

Locating an appropriate residence tailored to unique and diverse needs can be challenging, but it is far from impossible. Here’s a look into the challenges confronting people with disability in their search for suitable housing and provide valuable tips for finding the ideal home.

Challenges with finding accessible housing

For many, finding NDIS-compliant housing is complicated by the lack of availability and diversity of housing options that are accessible to specific needs. A home designed or modified to accommodate inclusivity means that anyone can enter, move around and use features and facilities comfortably.

However, finding such accessible or adaptable housing can be hard for people with disability due to barriers such as:

  • Discrimination from landlords, agents or neighbours.
  • The lack of accessible or adaptable features in existing houses.
  • High cost of renting or buying a home.
  • Inadequate support services and funding to live independently.
  • Isolation from family, friends, or community.

These barriers negatively impact the health, well-being, and participation of people with disability in everyday activities. For instance, living in unsuitable housing increases the risk of injury and makes it harder to complete everyday tasks.

Tips for Finding Accessible Housing for People with Disability

Despite these barriers, here are a few points in finding adequate housing to improve one’s quality of life and independence.

Assess your needs and preferences.

Before looking for a house, you should clearly know what features and modifications you need to live comfortably and independently. For instance, do you require a ramp, a lift, wider door, lower sink, walk-in shower, or other modifications to help you live more independently?

Next, also consider your preferences regarding location, size, type, and style of house you want. A well-designed house in the right area can allow you to live more independently, increase community connections and even access supports. Questions to ask include if you prefer living near public transport, shops, services, or your family and friends. Do you want to live in an apartment or townhouse or buy a house?

Lastly, what modifications do you need? Your residence should meet NDIS housing requirements for accessibility and promote independent living. Having a list of your needs and preferences helps narrow down housing options and communicate with potential landlords or sellers.

Explore different housing options.

Depending on the level of support needed and income available, different housing options are available:

  • Social housing – This subsidised housing option is offered by government or non-government organisations for people with low incomes or special needs. This type of housing includes public, community, or disability-specific housing. You must meet the eligibility criteria and register on the waiting list to get social housing.
  • Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) – This housing is specially designed or modified for people with a high functional impairment or high support needs. SDA is funded by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) for eligible participants. To access SDA, you need to have a NDIS plan that includes SDA funding and find a SDA provider that matches your needs and preferences.
  • Homeownership – This option allows people to buy a house by themselves or with their family. This is a long-term, and stable option compared to renting, but is more cost-intensive and comes with additional responsibilities. However, you have more flexibility with the modifications or adaptations you can add to your home to suit your requirements.
  • Private rental residences – These are dwellings owned by private landlords or real estate agents. It’s more flexible than social housing or SDA but could be more expensive, less secure, and harder to get. Additionally, you need to go through a tenant vetting process, sign a lease agreement and even pay rent in advance. You might also need to negotiate with the landlord or agent about any modifications or adaptations you need to make on the property. Sometimes they might not agree to make these modifications.

Seek professional advice and assistance.

Getting suitable housing is challenging for anyone, especially for people with disability. With several factors to consider, such as accessibility, affordability, safety, comfort, and convenience, it can be difficult to find a place that has all these qualities. That’s why it is best to seek professional advice and assistance on how to find a place that strikes the perfect balance of these features. You can get help from:

  • A NDIS planner or support coordinator – They could help identify and narrow down your housing goals and what options are available for you. The planner can also connect you with other suitable disability support providers or services and review your NDIS plan to accommodate these new changes if needed.
  • A financial planner – they can help manage your finances so you can adequately plan and budget for your new accommodation. You can select the most budget-friendly housing option by analysing your savings, income, expenses, and debts.
  • An occupational therapist or other health professional – They can assess your functional needs and recommend appropriate modifications or adaptations for your home.
  • A legal advisor or advocate to help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, buyer, or property owner and assist you with any disputes or complaints. They can enhance your rights and protections as a tenant.
  • A local council or community organisation can provide information about local housing options, services, programs, grants, or subsidies that may be available.

Getting accessible housing is an important aspect for people to live independently and participate in the community. With help and support from a range of people, access to more information, guidance, and support can be readily available to boost chances of getting suitable accommodation. By following these tips and leveraging the resources available to you, you can increase your chances of finding a home that suits your needs, allowing you to live more independently.

If you have any questions regarding your NDIS plan, please don’t hesitate to contact our team at 1800 63 63 77. We are available to address any inquiries you may have.


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