Housing Pathways is a simpler, easier and fairer way to apply for housing assistance in NSW
Housing Pathways Strategy
Every year, thousands of people across New South Wales seek help to find a safe, secure and affordable place to live. They visit the offices of FACS Housing and other organisations providing community housing. Together with the Aboriginal Housing Office, these organisations own or manage some 150,000 social housing dwellings in NSW.
With dozens more providers offering a range of housing assistance products in NSW, increasingly clients have found it difficult to find the information they need about all the options available to them.
- Do they need community housing or public housing?
- Can they get help from the Aboriginal Housing Office?
- Do they need private rent assistance or help brokering private rental?
- Where can they find crisis accommodation?
- What if they need specialist housing?
- Are there other organisations that can help them?
The system prior to Housing Pathways asked clients to travel along a complex path to find a home. It also required them to understand systems and processes that have been developed by multiple agencies over many years. People with a disability or mental illness, people leaving violence, the elderly or homeless found it particularly difficult to negotiate the system and get the most out of the available opportunities.
How does a client know which door they need to open?
We have made it easier for all people who need housing assistance get the help they need. From 27 April 2010, the New South Wales Housing Pathways Strategy changes the way the housing sector supports people who are applying for social housing in NSW. Under Housing Pathways, we’re aiming to create a system with “no wrong doors”.
Housing Pathways has been designed to streamline and coordinate client access to the full suite of social and affordable housing assistance products and services. Housing Pathways:
- simplifies the application process for clients
- standardises assessment processes across organisations
- delivers a single waiting list for the NSW social housing system
- reduces administrative costs and duplication.
The result is outcomes that increase access and improve opportunities for clients and offer more efficient assessment processes for housing providers.
Key elements of Housing Pathways
Clients are able to access comprehensive, detailed and up-to-date information about all the housing assistance options that are available to them and they get this information at the starting point.
When they contact an organisation about housing assistance – whether that’s FACS Housing or a participating community housing provider – they’ll be able to find out about all the options open to them for housing assistance.
We’ve remodelled the application process under Housing Pathways. Until now, clients have had to apply separately and use different forms with each provider they wished to be housed with. Now, one application allows clients to describe their needs and preferences.
Once the application has been submitted and assessed, all nominated housing providers have access to the client’s request for assistance.
The new application form has been carefully designed to collect the information housing providers need to determine:
- a client’s eligibility for particular housing products and support
- products that offer the most useful support to the client
- whether a more detailed assessment of the client’s needs is required
- whether immediate action is required.
Clients no longer have to tell their story again and again to different housing providers. When a client submits an application for housing assistance, an initial assessment will determine which housing assistance products are suitable for the client and whether the client meets the eligibility requirements for those products. The application process also identifies clients who need a more detailed assessment.
A detailed assessment looks more closely at the client’s individual circumstances and needs and establishes the assistance that can be provided to the client to meet their housing need. The detailed assessment also helps organisations to determine the ranking of the client’s application if they are placed on the NSW Housing Register. It also helps housing providers identify any additional support service the client might need and allow the housing provider to make referrals to other service providers.
Both the initial and detailed assessments are undertaken by one of the organisations participating in Housing Pathways using newly developed and agreed standard criteria and processes.
Housing Pathways uses common eligibility and prioritisation policies so that all clients are assessed against the same criteria, regardless of the organisation receiving the application and conducting the assessment. This helps ensure that decisions about housing assistance are made with consistency and equity, and are based on assessed needs.
Common eligibility criteria identify clients who can receive housing assistance.
In the future, common prioritisation guidelines will help housing providers to rank applicants for both public and community housing based on common criteria, ensuring clients receive assistance based on the urgency and degree of their housing need.
Before Housing Pathways, people seeking help with housing had to tell their story and provide the same information to more than one housing provider if they wanted to maximise their housing options. Some clients held places on two, three or more waiting lists.
Under Housing Pathways, for the first time NSW has a single, statewide register of all applicants seeking housing assistance – the NSW Housing Register.
Clients can choose to be considered for Aboriginal, public and community housing, widening the pool of potential properties they can be considered for. Housing providers use the NSW Housing Register to identify suitable applicants for their vacant properties, programs and services.
The NSW Housing Register also provides:
- significant administrative benefits for housing providers
- a clearer picture of the extent of housing need across NSW
- the ability to undertake more strategic service planning based on real-time data.
Housing Pathways supports housing providers to make local decisions about the allocation of housing to applicants. Decisions are not made centrally and providers still manage their own housing, programs and services, but the availability of the NSW Housing Register and the use of common policies and guidelines streamlines the process for both applicants and providers.
Implementing the strategy
Housing Pathways represents a new way of managing social housing in NSW. To create the changes we want to see, we are also implementing new oversight and administrative process and new technology.
We’ve established the Housing Pathways Advisory Council to oversee the implementation of Housing Pathways. The Council comprises representatives of both government and non-government organisations participating in Housing Pathways. We’ve also appointed a Manager, Housing Pathways, within FACS Housing to manage the operational activities and changes that need to occur.
Housing Pathways is being implemented in two stages – the first is occurring right now. Planning for Stage two begins in 2010 and by 2012 we aim to have a social housing system in which clients will find that, when they need help with housing, there really is no wrong door.
2010: Housing Pathways Stage 1
- High level housing information available on the web for social housing providers and clients
- A single, paper-based application for housing assistance in use by all participating housing providers.
- The NSW Housing Register established – a single waiting list of all applicants for social housing in NSW
- Governance structures established including the position of Manager, Housing Pathways and the Housing Pathways Advisory Council.
- Integrated service delivery involving all participating providers
- Introduction of a Housing Pathways Information and Communication Technology solution to support integrated service delivery and coordination
Housing Pathways — next steps
- Comprehensive housing assistance information available on the web for social housing providers and clients
- Implementation of common prioritisation guidelines and governance structures and administrative arrangements fully operational
- An increased range of products available through Housing Pathways, including affordable housing
- Full implementation of a new Information and Communication Technology system to support further enhancements to Housing Pathways