Two reports released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare on public rental housing and state owned and managed Indigenous housing show that social housing remains an important source of accommodation for households whose needs cannot readily be met by the private rental market.
The reports, Public rental housing 2005-06 and State owned and managed Indigenous housing 2005-06, provide overviews of mainstream and Indigenous-specific public rental housing in Australia.
'Almost all new allocations under the mainstream and Indigenous-specific programs (99.7% and 99.3% respectively) have an income below the Centrelink cut off points,' said Ms Tracie Ennis of the AIHW's Housing Assistance Unit.
'The majority of households therefore pay less than full market rent, with an average reduction of $83 per week for mainstream housing and $82 a week for Indigenous-specific households,' she said.
The public rental housing report shows that those households considered to be in 'greatest need' made up 62% of the households accommodated within three months of submitting their application. This covers people who were either homeless, their life or safety was at risk in their current accommodation, they had a health condition that was aggravated by their current accommodation, their housing was inappropriate to their needs, or they had very high rental costs.
About two-thirds (60%) of all new households in the mainstream program and almost half (49%) of all new Indigenous-specific program allocations were made to people considered to have a special need such as a disability.
The number of Indigenous families housed under the mainstream program increased since 2004-05 from 3,500 to 3,661. This brings the total number of Indigenous households in mainstream and Indigenous-specific housing to 33,527 at 30 June 2006, an increase of 758 households over the previous year.
'Tenant satisfaction was generally high, with three quarters of households under the mainstream and indigenous-specific programs rating their homes as meeting their most important needs.
'This included the size of the dwelling, modifications for special needs, ease of access, car parking, yard space and fencing and the privacy, safety and security of their home,' Ms Ennis said.
In addition to these programs, private rent assistance is provided through Centrelink's Rent Assistance payments and also through the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement. Other important areas of housing assistance include home purchase assistance, community housing and crisis accommodation.