Social Housing and Homelessness Services is responsible for the development of policy initiatives and the delivery of homelessness, community housing and related services to the ACT community. In The Road Home White Paper on Homelessness, the Commonwealth Government set out bold goals to halve homelessness in Australia by 2020 and to offer supported accommodation to all rough sleepers who need it. The ACT Government is committed to these and a range of other targets under the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness.
Social Housing incorporates both public housing and community housing. Both of these provide low-cost housing to low and moderate income earners, who are unable to secure private rental or home ownership. Public housing is provided by government, while community housing is provided by community housing organisations funded by the ACT Government.
Community Housing offers secure, long-term rental accommodation for people in need of housing who are on low to moderate incomes or who have additional needs (through circumstances such as age or disability). Community Housing is managed by non-government organisations, which are often funded by the ACT Government. As well as accommodation, the Housing Provider may also offer support to tenants, which may include advocacy, referral or programs to assist tenants to maintain their tenancy and participate in community activities.
Community Housing may consist of shared or individual accommodation in hostel accommodation; an apartment complex; a townhouse; or stand-alone housing. These accommodation options are located across Canberra.
Further information can be found in the 'What is Community Housing?' Fact Sheet.
Affordable Housing provides a safe, secure accommodation option that meets the needs of low-to-moderate income households. Affordable Housing rent payable ranges from a proportion of income, up to 75% of the market rent for the property. The purpose of affordable housing is to ensure that housing is available to those who are on low to moderate incomes, including those whose income exceeds the eligibility level for public housing or housing based on 25% of income. Affordable Housing may consist of shared or individual accommodation in group houses; an apartment complex; a townhouse; or stand-alone housing. These accommodation options are located across Canberra.
The ACT Government funds and oversees a range of services for people who are homeless, including supported accommodation, outreach and drop-in services. In order to ensure that the level of homelessness is reduced and effective services are in place, the ACT Government and homelessness sector continually review and improve upon existing services. Some of these services include:
OneLink is the central information/access point for human services for the ACT including homelessness, disability and family support services. OneLink replaced First point and the Child Youth and Family Gateway on 1 July 2016 and is operated by Woden Community Service.
People who are homeless or who require information or access to human services can call 1800 176 468 free of charge. People are also welcome to drop in and meet with OneLink staff, located at Housing ACT, corner of Emu Bank and Benjamin Way Belconnen.
Further information is available from the OneLink website.
Justice Housing Program (JHP) - this program provides accommodation options to meet the diverse needs of people involved in the criminal justice system. The JHP provide supported housing places for individuals on bail and exiting custody. A proportion of the supported housing places will be allocated for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, men and women. A key element of this program is to provide temporary and transitional accommodation while participants in the program work with a support worker to engage with services and create pathways into medium and long term housing options.
Throughcare Support - is a client-centred program designed to enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients to succeed on their journey from prison to living sustainably back in the community. The program operates in collaboration with ACT Corrective Services to provide individualised and intensive case managed and trauma informed support.
Our Place - In September 2011, Ms Joy Burch, Minister, Community Services, launched ‘Our Place’ a Youth Integrated Education and Accommodation Program. Our Place provides supported accommodation to young people, with or without children, who are either studying, or employed. Our Place offers support to further young people’s careers and gain independence, with a goal to transition into affordable, private accommodation. Referrals to Our Place can be made through contacting First Point.
Common Ground Canberra (CGC) was established to provide long term, high quality housing options for people on low incomes; and a solution for people who experience chronic homelessness. It does so through purpose-built accommodation which mixes people who have experienced homelessness (20 units) with people who are on low incomes who require affordable housing (20 units). Further information is available at Common Ground Canberra
Street to Home – This service is dedicated specifically to the provision of assertive outreach and support to people sleeping ‘rough’. The service commenced in 2010 and continues to facilitate a ‘who’s new on the streets’ committee in partnership with city park rangers, ACT policing, ACT Mental Health, and other partners. The committee focuses on identifying people who may have recently started sleeping rough. The service is operated by St Vincent de Paul and is assisting those most excluded in our community to access support and accommodation.
Early Morning Centre - The EMC is operated by Uniting Care Canberra and is a free food service providing breakfast five days a week between 7.30am and 8.30am. The EMC also offers referral and support services five days a week between 9.00am and 11.30am. This EMC is available to support anyone who is homeless, or at risk of homelessness.
Preventing Homelessness - The Supportive Tenancy Service
An initiative under the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness, the Supportive Tenancy Service is available to support people on all housing tenures, who find themselves at risk of homelessness. Support is available to mortgagees, people in social housing, private rental and affordable housing. Early intervention support will be provided when problems first arise, in order to prevent them getting to crisis point. Where people already find themselves at risk of eviction or otherwise losing their accommodation, support will be provided to assist them in sustaining that housing. Supportive Tenancy Service is operated by Woden Community Service, in partnership with Belconnen Community Service and YWCA Canberra.
The ACT Government is committed to supporting Community Housing in the Territory. Community Housing provides a valuable alternative to private and public housing, allowing individuals to have greater choice in their housing options.
The move towards a National Regulatory System for Community Housing will improve our capacity to ensure that the viability and quality of Community Housing providers is maintained. This is important in order to protect vulnerable Canberrans who rely on Community Housing providers for their accommodation needs. A National Regulatory System will also allow growth providers operating in other jurisdictions to establish Community Housing opportunities here in the ACT.
The ACT Government is focused on encouraging the expansion of growth providers as they provide opportunities to increase housing supply for marginalised and vulnerable Canberrans. Focusing on growth providers rather than on the transfer of existing public housing properties is also important in order to prevent the reduction of housing availability for those for whom public housing is the preferred option.
The ACT Government also recognises the important contribution of specialist Community Housing providers in responding to the housing needs of tenants with specific needs, such as those with disabilities, the elderly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and those from other cultural groups. The Government is committed to working with a range of Community Housing providers to ensure quality housing options are available for people in need.
Legislation and Policy
Information and links are available at Legislation and Policy.
Independent Research and Reports
Policy development is supported by targeted research. The ‘Cohort Study’ was funded to undertake work to inform future support requirements and associated long-term accommodation types for clients with high and complex needs. The Study commenced in February 2018 and was completed in January 2019 by the Institute of Social Science Research at the University of Queensland.
The Cohort Study Key Findings
The Cohort Study Full Report [PDF 4.1MB]