The pipeline of specialized housing for people with disabilities is growing – for now

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Delays in funding approvals, frequent changes, and lack of direction from the federal government have left two-fifths of providers of specialized accommodation for people with disabilities suspicious of the industry that has become a big deal. assets of $ 2.5 billion in just five years.

While the supply of places for SDA participants – people with disabilities eligible for specialized accommodation paid for by NDIS – has increased by 30% compared to last year, the National Disability Insurance Agency does not provide not enough information that the emerging sector needs, according to respondents to a survey of the sector. to say.

Problems hampering providers include long wait times for SDA funding decisions as well as uncertainty over eligibility, the latest Specialized accommodation for people with disabilities: offer in Australia report said. Last year, only $ 204 million of the annual budget of $ 700 million was allocated to the plans of NDIS participants.

A lack of market information to allow developers and operators to anticipate what types of homes are needed and where they are needed was one reason why only just over half of all eligible participants were receiving payments. SDA, said Summer Foundation executive director Alecia Rathbone, who oversaw the report.

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“When you look at 30,000 eligible people and only 16,000 with funding, what happens to identify these other people and say ‘this is the housing I need’? Mrs. Rathbone said.

“How do you identify the accommodation they need? “

The Criticisms are not new. A separate report earlier this year representing the views of investors in the sector warned that without reforms to end NDIA’s “opaque” decision-making, the five-year-old sector’s growth that could quintuple again, was threatened.

Linda Reynolds, who took over responsibility for NDIS in March, said she was working to identify and implement solutions to improve supply and demand signals in the new industry.

The department said that since the second half of 2020, NDIA is centralizing home and life planning processes to take into account participants’ needs.

The unresolved uncertainty could dampen the willingness of investors and developers to invest in new stocks. Nonetheless, the latest report showed a jump in the number of places under development from 1,817 in November to 2,366 in August.

Growth in the total pipeline of homes – which takes between 12 and 24 months to complete – was positive, just as the leap in Tasmania and the first pipeline appearance in the NT was positive, Ms Rathbone said.

There was also an increase in the robust category. This accommodation is intended for tenants who may behave in a manner that may not be safe for themselves or for others. It needs good soundproofing and a safe space for other tenants or staff.

One of the four housing types in the SDA sector, it suffered from being the least developed, in part because it is more land hungry and construction costs can be higher.

“There is a slightly more rugged case,” Ms. Rathbone said. “It’s positive.”

The federal government agreed in August to publish quarterly reports providing information on market demand. But problems remain.

Providers named in the survey said funding determinations often did not match participants’ eligibility and needs and that there were not enough approvals for individual units.

Failure to correct them could hamper future supply, Ms Rathbone said.

“The next pipeline might be different if there was a trust issue,” she said.

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