Tenants say security and stability are the main benefits of community housing

The main benefits to tenants living in community housing are feeling more settled, being better able to manage money, and continuing to live in the same area, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Community housing is rental housing managed by non-profit community-based organisations such as local government, and religious and charity groups. It provides a range of safe, secure, affordable and appropriate rental housing options for those whose needs are less able to be met by the private sector.

Approximately 33,000 people in Australia live in community housing, compared with 330,000 living in public housing provided directly State and Territory governments.

The AIHW report, Community housing tenants: results from the 2007 National Social Housing Survey, based on the National Social Housing Survey, provides a biennial snapshot of community housing tenants in Australia.

It explores a range of issues including workforce participation among community housing tenants and how people move into and out of community housing.

The report showed that two-thirds of tenants were not actively looking for work - mostly due to old age, ill health, disability or a permanent medical condition.

Only 26% of tenants worked full- or part-time. Of those who were underemployed - that is working, but wanting to work more - the strongest influence on their underemployment was the need for training, education or work experience.

'About 43% of tenants had been a resident of their current community housing organisation for more than five years,' said Tracie Ennis, Head of the AIHW's Housing Assistance Unit.

About 86% of tenants in boarding or rooming houses had been there for more than six months, and more than 33% of those for more than five years.

Tenants who were previously homeless or in private boarding houses, generally had shorter stays in community housing, while most of those who moved to community housing from public housing had lived in their current community housing for more than 10 years.

Older tenants were more likely to come from private rental homes, whilst younger tenants tended to have previously lived with relatives or friends.

'Single, childless tenants accounted for more than half of households, while one-fifth of households were single-parent families,' said Ms Ennis.

'About two-thirds of the survey respondents were female,' she added.

Government payments and pensions are the primary income source for 78% of community housing tenants.

Canberra, 19 November 2008

Further information: Tracie Ennis, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1073, mob. 0417 024 275.

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1032.