Social housing occupants data are provided by state and territory housing authorities. ‘Occupants’ refers to all people who lived in social housing during any part of the reference year in public housing, SOMIH and community housing (for exceptions see the data quality statements). Data for Indigenous community housing were not available.
- In 2020–21, there were around 790,000 occupants living in three of Australia’s main social housing programs (public housing, state owned and managed Indigenous housing (SOMIH) and community housing; the majority (70%) were in public housing.
- 55% of the occupants in each social housing program were female.
- Around a third of occupants were aged 55 and over in public housing and community housing, but only around 1 in 7 occupants were in this age group in SOMIH.
Occupants in social housing
In 2020–21, there were around 790,000 people living in Australia’s 3 main social housing programs: public housing, state owned and managed Indigenous housing (SOMIH) and community housing (complete data were not available for all programs in Queensland and the Northern Territory). This represents the lowest number of occupants reported since 2013–14.
Of the reported social housing occupants in 2020–21 (Table OCCUPANTS.1):
- 70% (around 554,700 people) were in public housing
- 24% (around 185,800 people) were in community housing
- 6% (around 49,500 people) were in SOMIH.
State and territory
The location of social housing occupants across the states and territories has been relatively consistent over time, with most occupants in Australia’s three most populous states. Following the location of social housing dwellings, over one-third of social housing occupants lived in New South Wales (34%) and almost one fifth lived in Victoria (18%) and one sixth in Queensland (17%).
The number of occupants in each social housing program varied between states generally reflecting the different housing available. For all states except Tasmania and the Northern Territory, highest number of occupants were in public housing, followed by community housing. The opposite pattern was seen in Tasmania and the Northern Territory had the highest number in SOMIH followed by public housing. Note that community housing data was unavailable for NT.
Age and sex of occupants
Females made up the majority of occupants across the three main social housing programs. In 2020–21, there were 306,700 (55%) females in public housing, 27,200 (55%) in SOMIH and 102,200 (55%) in community housing.
Public housing and community housing had occupants had a relatively similar age profiles. In 2020–21, key similarities and differences in the age profile of public and community housing occupants include (Figure OCCUPANTS.1; Table OCCUPANTS.2):
- The public housing program had 37% of occupants aged 55 years and over compared to 33% of occupants in this age group in community housing.
- 1 in 3 occupants in both public housing (33%) and community housing (33%) were under the age of 25.
- Across the other age groups, community housing (34%) and public housing (31%) had a relatively similar proportion of occupants aged 25–55.
The age profile of SOMIH occupants was unique compared to the public housing and community housing, with just under half of occupants (49%) aged under 25 with around a third (30%) aged 0–14. In contrast, around 14% of SOMIH occupants were aged 55 or over (Figure OCCUPANTS.1; Table OCCUPANTS.2).
Figure OCCUPANTS.1: Household members by social housing program, age and sex, 2020–21