Home is where people find solace. It’s their safe place. It’s a place to recharge their batteries and be with their loved ones. Most people can choose where they wish to live and whom they wish to live with. However many people with disability are denied the opportunity to make choices regarding their living situation due to inaccessible housing and lack of support.
When I was a young adult with a disability I dreamt of living independently.
This dream became a reality. I’m very much aware that if I had high support needs, I may have had to live in a group home or nursing home. The prospect of those living options scare me.
Dr George Taleporos, policy manager at the Summer Foundation, writes that, as a person with disability, he knows that most housing is inaccessible and unaffordable for people with disability with high support needs. As a result people with disability are forced to reside in nursing homes or group homes.
The NDIS is trying to find solutions to the bleak housing situation many people with disability find themselves in.
The NDIS has introduced funding referred to as Specialist Disability Accommodation [SDA]. This will enable eligible participants to move into accessible and affordable housing. Eligible participants will be able to choose where they live and who they live with. SDA funding is only for the physical dwelling and doesn’t cover support costs.
One of the really positive aspects of SDA is that people with disability will have the freedom to live where they desire
Jono Bredin co-wrote an article with researchers, Libby Callaway and Kate Tregloan. Jono has a disability and receives SDA funding. Jono wrote that having SDA has enabled him to move to a unit of his own. He asserts the move has increased his confidence and motivation. Due to moving he participates more in the community.
One positive impact that the NDIS has had on the living situation for people with disability is that housing and support services are now funded separately.
Dr George Taleporos points out that, by funding housing and support separately, people with disability will be able to change who provides support without moving house.
Blogger Eli Gibbs, a woman with a disability, shows that the separation of funding is imperative. She writes that the only way many people with disability can receive support services, such as personal care, is often dependent on where people reside, such as living in a group home or nursing home. She asks us to imagine being forced to live with people you don’t like in order to have a daily shower. By funding housing and support separately, people with disability will have control over their living situation.
However, one of the limitations of SDA is it only funds participants with the highest functional impairments.
Due to this restriction many people with disability won’t receive SDA. Justin Nix from Equitable Access Solutions claims that due to many people with disability not being eligible for SDA, they may be excluded from accessible housing completely. Most housing projects for people with disability are geared towards attracting SDA participants. This leaves many people with disability with limited housing options, because they’re ineligible for SDA.
One of the limitations of SDA is the language they use to describe housing for people with disability. The Victorian Council of Social Services believes that the NDIS must stop using terms such as Specialist Disability Accommodation. It is clear that the general population still believe that housing for people with disability is different and separate from other citizens.
The NDIS is enabling many people with disability to finally have choice and control over their living situation.
Through NDIS funding many people with disability will be able to live with dignity and to be included in the community.
This is a basic human right that should be applied to everyone.
However, many people with disability will be ineligible for SDA. These people with disability need urgent assistance to access housing.
Nevertheless, I feel that the NDIS is transforming the housing situation for people with disability.
One day people with disability will be able to search for a home without being encumbered by issues of accessibility.
We may be on the way to turning this dream into a reality.
Dr George Taleporos cited in https://probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2017/04/evolution-housing-people-disabilities/
Dr George Taleporos cited in https://www.summerfoundation.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/separating-housing-and-support-toolkit.pdf
Victorian Council of Social Services http://www.amida.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/SUB_160304_HousingforPeoplewithDisability.FINAL_.pdf