What is Community Housing?
Community Housing is one of a number of affordable housing options in South Australia. For more information about your housing options, please ring Housing SA’s Telephone Contact Centre on 131 299. You can also visit your local Housing SA office.
Community Housing Providers are non-government organisations established as Community Housing Providers and Volunteer Member-Tenant Managed Organisations. They are registered under the South Australian Co-operative and Community Housing Act 1991.
Community Housing Providers provide housing for people with high needs including people who have experienced homelessness, the aged, people with a disability, survivors of domestic violence, people from non-English speaking backgrounds, low income families and individuals, and people experiencing difficulty accessing the private rental market.
Volunteer Member-Tenant Managed Organisations are managed by the tenant members who live in the providers’ houses. Community Housing Providers are in most cases managed on behalf of the tenants by paid staff.
Community Housing can provide long term housing security and affordable rent and for VMTM organisations, involvement in housing management.
Who lives in Community Housing?
Community housing provides a home to approximately 7,300 people in South Australia, one-third of them children, with over 4,500 dwellings across the State – more if you include a number of properties that are head-leased by Community Housing Providers.
Almost 70% of the community housing population reside in Community Housing Providers’ dwellings.
Community housing was introduced in Australia in the early 70s- with some of the first housing occurring in the Bowden/Brompton area. It has grown to over 90,000 homes in Australia.
Community housing provides housing for those most in need of accommodation – including people with an intellectual, physical disability, the aged, struggling families, young people, migrants, women escaping domestic violence and low-income earners. Community housing can also assist people with special needs because of living in rural areas, or because of discrimination in the private house market due to language, sexuality, gender or culture. Often people housed within a particular group will represent a cross-section of those disadvantaged in the community. This diversity is a strength of the program, because a variety of skills and social backgrounds are necessary in the increasingly complex management and accountability of community housing providers.
About three-quarters (75%) of people living in community housing rely on statutory incomes, such as sickness and disability benefits, for survival. (About three quarters have a total household income that is less than 50% of the State’s average weekly earnings).
Benefits of Community Housing
It can be argued, community housing has a number of potential advantages over traditional public housing tenure, including:
- Increased flexibility in meeting housing needs
- Increased flexibility in asset management
- Long term secure housing
- Empowerment of tenants and development of a community focus
- Drawing in the support of agencies which already provide for those in need and are already assisting in addressing these needs
- Cost effective housing support
- Friendship and assistance within a community environment
- Skill development often leading to reduced reliance on government benefits
- Opportunities to contribute to the community
Responsive and flexible
Community Housing Providers and Volunteer Member-Tenant Managed Organisations are small community based groups, and are therefore in a position to be more responsive to individuals with high needs and can link quickly to support agencies to ensure tenants can be appropriately housed and stay in their home.
These housing options are made possible through the strong partnership between the community and the Government. This partnership approach, when applied well, can reduce government costs and build community and individual involvement – and therefore responsibility.
Groups also work with private businesses, churches and other groups such as local councils to make the best use of the resources available – such as through joint ventures. To date, Community Housing Providers have been more able to make the most of these opportunities.
Community Housing contributes a strong social benefit to the State
Community housing providers and their tenants are committed to contributing their fair share of hard work to make sure houses are maintained, rents are collected and that families, whatever their size and shape – have a home that is safe, secure, affordable and appropriate. Tenants, if they are able, are encouraged to help run the non-profit providers that house them. This tenant involvement in community housing reduces reliance on welfare agencies, through a sense of self-help and community support. In the majority of Volunteer Member-Tenant Managed Organisations, tenant participation is a condition of membership.
Community Housing helps prevent social problems
Community housing providers are tailored to meet specific needs – and will seek to maintain services and advocate for increased services based on tenant demand. This has resulted in a deliberate linking into services that will best serve the needs of members and tenants. This means community housing can deliver a range of benefits above and beyond shelter such as:
- Making people more job ready through training and the development of social, management, literacy, numeracy and communication skills.
- Preventing or reducing dependence on health and social service agencies through linking support provided through the housing model.
- Better health and educational outcomes for children by providing stable and secure housing.
Community housing provides homes, develops people skills and creates supportive communities.