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Housing Barriers for People With Disabilities

With the Australian Government’s ongoing support of the National Disability Insurance  Scheme (NDIS), it appears that as a country, we have our disabled community at the height of our priorities. But did you know that Australians living with disability still face housing barriers? In fact, the problem is global, with less than half of the OECD population satisfied with the level of affordable housing, let alone those faced with the additional challenge of living with disability.  

We discuss the way forward in breaking down housing barriers for people with disabilities and detail how you can help by investing in an SDA housing property. 

What are the housing barriers for people with disabilities?

Most often, the largest housing barriers for people living with disability are present across three distinct areas:

  • Affordability
  • Functionality 
  • Availability

Barriers to suitable housing aren’t solely reserved for those with disability, but living with a disability makes finding appropriate accommodation extra difficult. Many houses will address obstacles such as wheelchair access, but disabilities can range across physical, intellectual, mental, sensory and very high support needs – each presenting a unique set of needs when it comes to housing. 

Affordability

People living with disability tend to have lower incomes than those without disability and often live alone if not with their families. This means that affording a home is incredibly challenging. Within the OECD and Eu countries, over 10% of people with disabilities spend over 40% of their disposable income on housing! 

In order for someone living with a disability to find something remotely appropriate within the housing market, they must compete with other buyers (who may have higher incomes). Additionally, they need to modify the home (outlaying more money) to align it more closely with their needs. 

Functionality 

With a broad range of disabilities comes a wide range of functional requirements to meet the (often complex) needs of those seeking appropriate housing. Typically, homes are not designed, nor built to accommodate any particular disability, and therefore, the standard housing market proves insufficient in providing suitable accommodation for those living with disability.

Considerations include but aren’t limited to:

  • Accessibility such as steps, width of doors, automation, bench height, guide/assistance railings, access points (lifts in apartment buildings, for example).
  • Proximity to amenities such as public transport, shopping, libraries, education facilities or health care facilities.
  • Noise and light levels for those with sensory disabilities.

Modification is usually always required for homes, and even then, the homes will often fall short in terms of functionality due to restricted funds or building options. 

Availability 

The issues of affordability and functionality naturally illustrate how the availability of suitable accommodation for those living with a disability presents as a major barrier. Particularly in recent Australian markets, the demand for housing has sky-rocketed thanks to COVID, so finding appropriate accommodation can feel like finding a needle in a very large haystack if you live with a disability. 

What can be done to break down housing barriers for the disabled community? 

Thankfully, the Australian Government addresses the housing barriers that the disabled community faces by introducing the Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) funding as part of the NDIS. SDA homes provide purpose-built accommodation across four design categories in order to meet the needs of tenants living with disability. 

The homes are renovated or built by a select list of approved builders and are required to meet a strict design standard. Not only that, but they can be built to have multiple tenants, meaning that more than one person can find their forever home, and help to bridge the social isolation gap for the disabled community. 

Benefits of investing in SDA housing

The benefits of specialist disability accommodation investing extend beyond providing a suitable home for someone living with a disability. Thanks to the Government’s generous funding, investors can look forward to twenty years of government-backed returns that often see their income yield in excess of 11% pa. 

With such a heavy demand for SDA homes, not only are tenants likely to stay in their residence for life, providing confidence in investment income, but investors access a niche market with more demand than supply. Furthermore, SDA properties are able to be purchased through a self-managed super fund, helping to accelerate your retirement savings through an ethical property investment choice. 

If you want to put your money towards a socially-focused investment with strong long-term returns, let NDIS Loan Experts show you how. 

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