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. InThe Road Home White Paper on Homelessnessthe 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 Housingprovides 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.
Managed Accommodation Program and Women Exiting Corrections Program - These services are directed specifically at men and women exiting the Alexander Maconochie Centre and other corrections programs. These programs will assist to ensure that people exiting prison receive adequate support and stable housing on release, thereby assisting their rehabilitation, and reducing homelessness.
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.
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.
In December 2008 the Australian Government released a White Paper on Homelessness, setting the policy agenda for addressing homelessness across Australia. This was followed on 1 January 2009 by the implementation of National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA), and later by the National Partnership Agreements on Homelessness and Social Housing. The NAHA replaces the former Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) and Commonwealth State Housing Agreement (CSHA).
These national agreements are complemented by the Affordable Housing Action Plan, which addresses housing affordability in the ACT community. In August 2009 the Affordable Housing Action Plan Phase II was released, identifying strategies to address homelessness and affordable accommodation options for older Canberrans.
The Road Home: A National Approach to Reducing Homelessness
The National Affordable Housing Agreement
The National Partnership Agreement on Affordable Housing
The National Partnership Agreement on Social Housing
The National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness – ACT Project Plan