Priority housing: child protection caseworker factsheet
Last published 12 Feb 2018
Priority social housing assistance
This fact sheet provides information for caseworkers who assist clients with priority housing needs involving domestic and family violence (DFV) or the restoration of children from out-of-home care (OOHC).
These clients are eligible for priority assistance under existing policy where they meet the social housing eligibility criteria and have provided supporting evidence of the grounds for their urgent housing need.
Applying for housing assistance
Applications for one or more type of social housing (public, community and Aboriginal housing) can be lodged online, by phone or by attending your local Communities and Justice (DCJ) Housing office, Customer Service Centre or participating community housing provider.
The social housing provider the form is lodged with will conduct an initial assessment of the application and can be contacted by clients with existing applications who wish to update their details or check their application status.
To be eligible for social housing:
- a client must meet the residency requirements,
- have income and assets within the eligibility limits
- and be able to sustain a tenancy with or without supports
Applicants nominate a preferred area or town in an allocation zone. Offers may be made in any of the suburbs in the allocation zone and standard bedroom entitlements apply depending on the household type and size.
If the client appears to be eligible for social housing, they will be asked to complete a social housing supplement form and if more information is required, as in the case of urgent housing needs, the client may also be asked to attend an interview. The application questions requiring supporting evidence are marked on the form with details of the information required on the Evidence requirements information sheet.
Priority access to social housing and evidence requirements
Once an applicant is accepted as eligible for social housing, they are placed on the NSW Housing Register. DCJ maintains the Register (wait list) for public and community housing.
This wait list is segmented into ‘priority’ and ‘general’ categories, which determines the order of housing allocation. The ‘general’ category is for anyone who is eligible for social housing, while the ‘priority’ category applies to people who are eligible for social housing, in urgent need of housing and are unable to address their housing needs in the private rental market due to their complex life circumstances.
Clients cannot apply for priority housing assistance directly however an assessment for priority housing status is conducted when the evidence of urgent housing need is presented with a client’s application.
Clients identifying DFV or restoration of children from OOHC need to provide evidence which demonstrates:
- the current risk of homelessness to themselves or a household member
- that the lack of appropriate accommodation is impacting their ability to have children restored
- associated medical assessments
- referrals from support providers
- supporting legal documentation such as Family Court papers, a Warrant of Possession or Apprehended Violence Order.
One of the requirements for a client seeking to be granted priority status on the Housing Register is the need for them to demonstrate their inability to resolve their housing need in the private market.
This can be demonstrated in a number of ways such as by providing:
- evidence of the number of persons to be housed (for large families)
- a letter from a support worker, advocate or health professional, or evidence of any unsuccessful attempts to obtain private rental accommodation
DCJ encourages clients to provide comprehensive details of their circumstances so that their needs can be fully assessed. Clients being assessed for priority assistance that have requested a high demand zone will also be assessed for locational need.
Private rental alternatives to social housing
For some clients private rental accommodation may provide a better housing solution than social housing.
DCJ can assist clients with a range of private rental assistance options including:
- Rentstart Bond Loan
- Start Safely Private Rental Subsidy
- Tenancy Facilitation
- Tenancy Guarantee
- Private Rental Brokerage Service
Clients with urgent housing need who are not eligible for social housing
Clients who are not eligible for social housing may be eligible for short-term temporary housing for up to 3 months. This assistance is available to Australian citizens or permanent residents with an urgent housing need because of natural disaster, DFV which is placing a family member at risk or homelessness with custody of children.
For all clients who have nowhere safe to stay, phone Link2home for information and advice 24 hours a day.
Community Services caseworkers are encouraged to make use of Patchwork NSW to facilitate a collaborative approach with DCJ Housing or community housing provider staff members when assisting shared clients who are accessing housing.
To contact the Access and Demand Coordinator for your area, please call your local DCJ Housing office.