The forgotten social housing sector?

Not-for-profit providers are being called upon to participate in a new national survey about independent living units.

Not-for-profit providers throughout the country are being called upon to help the government and peak bodies learn more about independent living units (ILUs) by participating in a new social housing survey, coming soon.

Researchers from Swinburne University, Melbourne, will soon invite not-for-profit providers with ILUs to participate in the survey, which will attempt to unlock the facts about the often ‘forgotten social housing sector’.

Once complied, the survey’s results will used by the Office of Housing of the Australian Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs’ (FaHCSIA) to form a new national database.

Information will also be supplied to the research partners, Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) and COTA, so that the organisations can further support member ILU providers.

Research fellow, Andrea Sharam, said that with an ageing population and a looming aged care housing crisis, there was a dire need to find out information about who the providers are.

The study, due to begin in a few weeks, will hopefully facilitate further research and possibly, the formation of government policies, which would make a great difference to lives of older people with low assets or on low incomes.

“Over time, these units have deteriorated and the people on their housing committees are getting older,” Ms Sharam said.

“We have no research overview [about IHU stock] that policy makers can use. But, it is recognised that these organisations have made a substantial contribution over the last few decades.

“There is also a great desire to ensure that the providers are supported so that they can retain the houses…This research is important as we try to understand who owns the units, how much stock is still there and what is happening with the stock.”

ILUs, provided by not-for-profit organisations, are a significant housing option for older people with relatively low income and low assets. Ms Sharam estimated that ILUs comprise around 30 per cent of all social housing units for older persons in Australia.

“It’s a sector that’s probably not supported at the moment,” she said. 

“A lot of older people on low incomes need housing. This research will ensure that the peak organisations can assist [providers] and that government policy will meet their needs.

“It is a very important step in trying to make sure there is enough appropriate housing for older people.”

Ms Sharam said that survey participants must meet the following eligibility criteria: they must be from a not-for-profit organisation that has a minimum of one unit; the unit has to be available or occupied by an older person; the resident must rent the unit or have provided a capital contribution (loan or donation) that is less than $131,500; and the capital funding must not have come from the state housing authority.

The project is being undertaken by Swinburne Institute for Social Research with input from the Australian Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA).

For more information or to participate, click here

Tags: acsa, aged-care, cota, independent-living-units, swinburne-university,

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