Housing plays a major role in the health and wellbeing of people with disability, by providing shelter, safety and security. The availability of affordable, sustainable and appropriate housing helps people with disability to participate in the social, economic and community aspects of everyday life.

A person who does not have access to affordable, secure and appropriate housing may experience several negative consequences, including homelessness, poor health, and lower rates of employment and education (see Homelessness services, Health, Employment and Education and skills for more information).

This domain looks at the type of housing people with disability live in, their tenure and their housing needs (such as modifications and moving house because of disability). It also includes information on housing assistance and homelessness services.

Security of tenure

Security of tenure refers to the extent to which a household can stay in a home for reasonable periods if they wish to, provided they meet their legal obligations (such as paying the rent and looking after the property).

Some types of tenure are considered more secure than others. For example, owning your own home, especially without a mortgage, is usually more secure than renting in the private rental market.

Housing affordability

The term ‘housing affordability’ usually refers to the relationship between money spent on housing (house prices, mortgage payments or rent) and household income. Depending on the housing situation (for example, home ownership versus renting), the concept of ‘housing affordability’ can mean different things to different people and households. For home owners, it primarily means buying and repaying expenses. For renters, it primarily relates to paying rent and other related expenses.

Housing affordability, especially in the private rental market, is a concern for people with disability. While there are limited data on this, the data available suggest that some people with disability struggle to find affordable housing and are vulnerable to housing or rental stress. On top of other general housing expenses, people with disability may also face additional costs, such as for modifying housing.

Many people with disability rely on the Disability Support Pension (DSP) as their main source of income (see Income and Income support for more information), which may put some housing options out of their reach.

Households and income units

Data on housing are often collected and reported for households and income units rather than persons.

A household is defined as one or more persons, at least one of whom is at least 15 years of age, usually resident in the same private dwelling.

An income unit is one person, or group of related people in a household who share decisions about income. Married and de facto couples, and parents with dependent children, are considered part of the same income unit.

Summary card 1 showing key statistics for type of housing. The card shows that younger people with disability are more likely to live in private dwellings than older people with disability. The more severe a person's disability is, the more likely they are to live in cared accommodation. 

Summary card 2 showing key statistics for living arrangements. The card shows that 17% of non-dependent people with disability who rent, do so from a state or territory housing authority, compared with 3% of those without disability. The card also shows that non-dependent people with disability are more likely (24%) to live alone than those without disability (10%).

Summary card 3 showing key statistics for housing related needs. The card shows that 1 in 12 people with disability have moved house because of their condition or age. Of those who had to move, people aged under 65 with disability are more likely (32%) than those aged 65 and over (11%) to move house more than once because of their condition or age. Summary card 4 showing key statistics for housing assistance: The card shows that 16% of income units receiving Commonwealth Rent Assistance received the Disability Support Pension (DSP) as their primary payment. Social housing households with people with disability experience benefits of social housing in such areas as coping with life events (84%) and enjoying better health (78%).

Summary card 5 showing key statistics for homelessness. The card shows that 8.6% of Specialist Homelessness Services clients have disability; 30% of these have severe or profound disability. The top reasons for seeking assistance (excluding other) are accommodation (42%) and interpersonal relationships (22%).