The NDIS will soon start funding housing pilots in its trial sites. These will be testing out ways to address the huge unmet demand for housing amongst people with disability.
The NDIA has not yet released the specific details of how many projects will be funded in each trial site, or the process they will use to select the pilots.
Although these details aren’t yet clear, there are 20 things that we think can be predicted about the design, funding and management of housing in the NDIS.
Here are our top 20 things that we expect about housing in the NDIS, based on the public speeches, presentations and reports released on the NDIS.
Housing assistance for people with disability will expand significantly in an NDIS world.
- The NDIS has funding to meet the housing needs of 27,700 people with disability. The Productivity Commission designed the NDIS and included around $700 million per annum in the NDIS budget to pay for the capital cost of housing. The NDIS’ housing capital fund is for people with disability who have the highest support needs – those who require assistance regularly throughout the entire day.
- The NDIS won’t provide housing for all people with disability. Despite having housing funding for around 27,700 people, the potential demand for housing amongst people with disability could be as high as 127,000. This will leave a large unmet need.
- NDIS will not own any assets. The NDIA is not a service provider – it will not be developing and operating housing itself. Rather, the NDIA will be funding other organisations to develop and manage housing.
- Focus on supply side not demand. The key change delivered by the NDIS is that funding will be user-directed through individual packages (‘demand side’ driven). Housing won’t operate like this – providing people with funding to pay for housing (for example an enhanced Rental Assistance payment) is likely to simply drive up the cost of housing. Housing the NDIS will be supply side oriented – NDIS funding will be provided directly to providers to develop and manage housing.
- Line of sight to participants. All housing projects will need to be linked directly back to individual NDIS participants residing in the house. Although the housing funding may be ‘supply focused’ rather than ‘demand driven’, the NDIS will not be making grants and leaving allocation up to housing providers. Rather, housing providers will need to accommodate specific NDIS participants because all housing funding must be reported against an individual participant’s package.
- Many state governments will exit providing services. All State governments currently provide supported accommodation services directly to people with disability. By the time the NDIS is fully rolled out in 2019 the NSW Government says it won’t provide any more specialist disability services. The ACT Government will outsource all supported accommodation by June 2017. Other governments are considering whether to make a similar exit. Any state government exits will mean services (and potentially staff and assets) will be transferred to non-government providers.
- People with mental health conditions and in nursing homes won’t be forgotten. The 12,000 younger people in nursing homes (under 65 years) are almost all likely to be eligible for the NDIS and will be offered a package of housing and support to exit aged care. Similarly, some people with mental health conditions will be eligible for the NDIS and those with high support needs will have funding for a non-clinical accommodation model of support. Both these groups have long been under-served and are likely to be explicitly targeted by the NDIS.
The insurance approach will consider a person’s lifetime and focus on building independence:
- Multi year contracts likely. The NDIS is expected to fund housing through multi-year subsidies, rather than up-front grant funding. The NDIS receives yearly funding from governments for each participant – the most attractive models will be ones that require multi-year funding (for example, NRAS style funding model) rather than seeking upfront grants.
- Scalable models. Accommodating 27,700 people, with up to 12,000 new housing places needing to be built immediately, is an enormous task. Housing pilots will need to show how they can be developed at a large enough scale that they could meet a substantial amount of the demand once the NDIS is rolled out nationally.
- Leverage: bringing in family & other contributions. The most attractive housing initiatives will not seek 100% of funding from the NDIS. The NDIS shouldn’t take away from the broader community’s willingness to create a more equitability society. Land transfers from local governments, partnerships with philanthropic organisations and enabling families to contribute (where possible) to the long term housing security of their children will all be highly valued by the NDIS.
- A pathway to independence. Building the independence of people with disability is a core goal of the NDIS, and the most successful housing models will be increasing people’s ability to live with the least possible support. Insurance principles sit at the heart of the NDIS and assisting people with disability to live as independently as possible is the biggest driver of a participant’s lifetime cost to the NDIS.
- More technology supporting independence. The lifetime cost focus of the NDIS allows the scheme to pay for high cost, upfront technology that reduce face to face support over a person’s lifetime. This will allow organisations to invest in more technology in the home that allows people with disability to simultaneously be more independence and reduce lifetime costs to the NDIS.
- Housing that is well located. The NDIS brings together the funding for housing, transport/taxis and carer supports for people with disability under a single banner. This will eliminate the inefficiency of governments buying low cost land far from jobs, schools, amenities and, recreation and then paying for huge taxi and carer costs to transport people with disability.
A world of choice, control and community integration:
- A separation of tenancy and support. People with disability should have the maximum choice over how they achieve their goals. The focus on supply side housing funding will reduce this choice. Therefore, expect that to maximize choice and control, the NDIS will want participants to be able to change their support provider without moving house. This will require the bricks and mortar of the house to be managed separately to the support provided within the house.
- People with disability choose who they live with. As well as having choice over their support provider, NDIS participants will need to have greater control over who they live with. The centrally planned allocation system used by many states will be replaced with a more decentralized approach where people with disability and their families/carers will have much more control over who moves into a house and when they choose to move out.
- Non-congregated. Few things are clearer than the move away from congregated care that is separated from the community and the move towards more integrated settings. All states are closing down their large institutions that house dozens of people with disability on a site that is separated from the community. The closure of these centers is a highly controversial and emotional issue in some communities. The NDIS vision is for people with disability to be active participants in their community and that starts with not being segregated into specialized locations cut off from their community.
- Accessible. The needs of NDIS participants are diverse: some will require a fully accessible dwelling fitted and others do not require any design features beyond the standard home on the market. The NDIS will require some housing stock to meet Platinum level accessibility standards, but is also likely to use its market power to try and increase the overall level of accessibility of Australia’s housing stock, by favoring projects that have a Silver level of accessibility.
- Collaborating with users to generate innovation. The flexibility of NDIS funding allows for new and innovative models of support to be developed. Providers will be expected to work with people with disability and their families and carers to design new ways to supporting people to achieve their goals.
- Enhance Diversity. The spectrum of options available to people with disability will become much richer and more diverse. While group home models won’t fade out anytime soon, the NDIS will expand options that provide more intensive support to people in their home rather than require people to move into designated ‘group home’ settings.
- Pathways to home ownership. Don’t expect home ownership to be a core requirement of housing in the NDIS, but the lifetime focus of the NDIS puts this option on the table. Shared equity, amongst tenants and between tenants/families and housing providers, are made possible because of the NDIS’s multi-year subsidy rather than the grants. Home ownership that can be shown to increase independence and reduce lifetime costs could be attractive in an NDIS funding world.