Housing for Aboriginal people
Last published 01 Feb 2018
The Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) is committed to providing safe, low cost and culturally appropriate housing and tenancy services for Aboriginal people living in NSW.
What is the difference between public housing and Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) homes?
There are 2 types of housing managed by FACS:
- public housing – Aboriginal applicants have the same right to be housed in public housing as all other applicants
- AHO homes – these are properties owned by the AHO and looked after by FACS.
- If you want an AHO home, either you or a household member must confirm that they are Aboriginal.
- You can have your name put on the NSW Housing Register and AHO housing list.
Am I eligible for social housing?
To be eligible for social housing, which includes Aboriginal housing, you must:
- live in NSW
- have an income that is within current income limits
- not own, or part-own a home
- repay, or agree to repay, any outstanding money you owe to FACS or AHO.
For information about how to confirm your Aboriginality, see item 3 on the evidence requirements information sheet
How do I apply for housing?
To apply for social housing, you should:
- read the applying for social housing fact sheet,
- complete an online application for housing assistance, or
- visit your local FACS office.
How long will I wait for housing?
When you apply for social housing we will let you know about how long the wait is in the area you want. The time you wait depends on things such as:
- the number of homes becoming available as others leave
- the number of people who’ve been waiting longer than you
- the number of people we have approved for priority housing or priority transfer because we will house these people before other people.
If it will be a long wait in the area where you want to live, you may like to pick another area so that you may be housed quicker.
What happens if I am an unsatisfactory former tenant of FACS or the AHO?
We will ask you to rent in the private market for at least 6 months. If you can rent in the private market with no problems, we will put your name back on NSW Housing Register. When it's your turn to be housed, we will offer a lease of 6 months. If you breach the lease, no extension will be offered. If you are a satisfactory tenant over this time, we will offer to extend your lease for 2, 5 or 10 years.
How can FACS help?
You need to be eligible for social housing to get other types of assistance. Aboriginal people can expect to receive respect, good service and correct information from FACS staff. You can find out about other housing services offered by FACS in ways we can help.
FACS has a Commitment to Improving Service Delivery to Aboriginal People which outlines the programs in place to help Aboriginal people and an action plan.
Through Rentstart, Aboriginal people can apply for financial support to help them move into their own private rental property. To apply for Rentstart you will need to find an affordable place to rent.
If you qualify for a Rentstart Bond Loan, FACS will help you out with an interest-free loan of up to 75% of the bond money so you can move into your own place.
If the landlord or real estate agent has not made a claim on the bond at the end of your tenancy, FACS will return any money you have paid off your loan.
For more information about Rentstart Bond Loans, visit your local FACS or participating community housing provider office or call the Housing Contact Centre.
Help for homeless people
If you don’t have a place to stay, you can get help from:
- your local FACS office, Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm (closed public holidays, office hours may vary in some locations)
- Link2home, the statewide telephone service offering access to specialised support and accommodation services for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless
Private Rental Subsidy
If you are approved for priority housing and have a disability or HIV/AIDS, and there are no homes available at that time, you may be eligible for help with your rent through with a Private Rental Subsidy.
Housing Contact Centre
The Housing Contact Centre is the place to call if you need your AHO or FACS home fixed. The Housing Contact Centre is open 24 hours, seven days a week, every day of the year.
Client Feedback Line
FACS likes you to tell us about its services. You can tell us good things or if you have a problem with what we are doing. If the problem is about a staff member, a more senior staff member will look at it for you.
Aboriginal Enquiry Line
An Aboriginal staff member of FACS works on the Housing Contact Centre phone line Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm. They can help you with your housing and rental issues. If an Aboriginal staff member is not there when you ring, you can leave a message. An Aboriginal staff member will call you back as soon as they can. You can talk to a non-Aboriginal staff member if you want.
Aboriginal Enquiry Line
1800 422 322
Help with tenancy issues
If you want to know more about what you need to do when you rent a home, talk to a Client Service Officer or call the Aboriginal Enquiry Line. NSW Fair Trading will also help you with problems if you are renting through their freecall Aboriginal enquiry line.
Fair Trading Aboriginal enquiry officer
1800 500 300
You can also contact your local Aboriginal Tenants Advice Service.
If you are having any troubles with tenancy issues and need some more help you can sign a disclosure form. This means that we can talk to your support person or worker with your permission.
Paying the rent
You can pay your rent using any of our payment options. These include:
- through the Rent Deduction Scheme
- at Australia Post
- at a Service NSW Centre
- by direct debit from your bank account.
The Rent Deduction Scheme is an easy way to pay rent if you receive Centrelink payments. This lets you have rent taken from your payment and sent straight to FACS.
If you are having trouble paying your rent, speak to your client service officer as soon as possible. Tell them what is happening and work out a way to fix it.
Enjoying your home
You have the right to enjoy your home and live without noisy and rude neighbours. We want you to feel safe in your home. If you are having trouble, try to sort out the problem with your neighbour. If this does not work, talk to your client service officer at your local FACS office about what is going on.
Friends and family can come and stay with you for up to 4 weeks. If they stay longer than 4 weeks and you want them to stay in your home, you must fill in an application for an additional occupant. If you do not tell us when someone else is staying with you for longer than 4 weeks, the help we give with the rent could be stopped. If someone moves into your home fulltime and you do not tell us, this is fraud.
In general, tenants do not need FACS approval to have a visitor stay with them for up to 4 weeks (28 days). However, in certain cases, FACS can apply a visitor sanction (3-day rule) to a tenancy. This means that if FACS has proof that you haven’t kept to your tenancy agreement, FACS can stop you having visitors staying for more than 3 days without telling FACS.
If you live in an AHO home, then the AHO must also agree to this visitor sanction. This approval from the AHO will be managed by your FACS client service officer.
Leaving your home for more than six weeks
If you need to leave your home for more than 6 weeks, you must tell FACS how long you will be away by contacting your client service officer or writing to us. You will need to tell FACS even if there are other family members in your home while you are gone.
Leaving your home for good
If you are leaving your home and aren’t planning to come back, you should tell your client service officer 3 weeks before you go. If you leave without telling us, you will still have to pay the rent and may have to pay for any damages that happen.
If you have any rubbish at your home, you will need to remove it properly. Please do not burn rubbish in the garden or yard. Please phone the Housing Contact Centre as soon as possible if any repairs need to be done in your home.
If you have anyone over to visit in your home and they damage it, you will have to pay for the repairs.
Being a good neighbour
Please make sure that all household members and visitors respect your neighbours’ right to peace and quiet.
If you have a pet, you must make sure the pet is not causing a problem to others. If we decide that your pet is causing problems for neighbours, you must remove the pet from your home within 48 hours of FACS sending you a message in writing.
FACS has fact sheets on a range of tenancy and other issues, including:
- transferring to another FACS or AHO home
- mutual exchanges (swapping homes)
- recognition as a tenant
- fixed-term leases
- termination of your lease
- appeals and review of decisions
- Rentstart Bond Loans
All these issues and others are dealt with in our factsheets.