Kymberly Martin

Disability housing making a bigger entrance

Disability housing is becoming big business in more ways than one. Earlier this year disability service provider, Northcott, partnered with specialist disability housing (SDA) provider DPN Casa Capace to design a ‘first of its kind’ disability housing hub in Sydney’s Oran Park. Now it’s the turn of the portable home with The Summer Foundation launching an accessible housing prototype that fills the gap for transitional housing. (See following story).

Advertisement

“We know there is a large market for disability housing that will emerge over the next 10 years, which is likely to be in the region of 30,000 to 40,000 in NSW alone,” Northcott deputy CEO, Lee Carpenter told F2L. “These people will expect a range of different housing options to meet their needs and it’s for that reason that Northcott has sought different opportunities to partner with organisations to combat the unmet need for people with disability looking to find a home of their own. This new approach of creating purpose-built properties, with non-government organisations and developers working in collaboration, is looking like it will be the new way forward.”

Carpenter said initially there were concerns about the project due to previous constraints of the NDIS, but as the scheme has evolved, those constraints have been removed. “Previously homes would have to be complete to get SDA approval, however now they can be pre-approved. We have also seen a significantly faster turnaround in NDIS participants receiving SDA funding approval in their plans.

“It’s exciting to see organisations like DPN Casa Capace taking a lead to address this critical community need. To live independently is a fundamental milestone of any young Australian, but with such a demand for disability housing, we need more organisations willing to take on the challenge,” he said.

Advertisement

Northcott provides a wide range of disability accommodation support across NSW. In 2017 it acquired 110 homes from the NSW State Government as part of its devolution of the disability accommodation program, partnering with Hume Community Housing to manage the facilities.

According to DPN Casa Capace CEO, Michael Fuller there has been very strong interest from multiple disability care providers with more than 40 initial expressions of interest for the semi-detached houses.

“Our pilot, in partnership with Northcott, which is under construction at Oran Park is expected to be completed in November and is in addition to another dozen homes. We are currently finalising arrangements with other providers for the additional expressions of interest.”

Fuller said there has also been significant interest from the private sector including companies from the equipment, building and construction industries, and apart from SIL providers, all the funding and supply chain interest has come from the private sector. It is in the process of finalising six other locations, and expects to have 25 homes committed by the end of 2019. Homes in the pipeline are predominantly in NSW, South-East Queensland and Victoria. He confirmed that the program to have 700 homes built in five years was on schedule. “As soon as we secured funding, we quickly began working towards this goal.”

Fuller said there have been challenges in getting institutional investors to understand and be comfortable with the NDIS, “But once an investor comes on board, then others tend to follow”.

The single level homes are fully compliant with NDIS SDA design requirements and feature oversized doors and corridors with large open-plan spaces together with customisable fittings such as ceiling supports and adjustable kitchen benches and basins to accommodate wheelchair usage. Designed for two or three participants, the homes also feature the Apple HomeKit platform for privacy control and the option for controlled lighting, blinds, doors, heating and cooling for each room.

,