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Housing Assistance Options Policy

Last published 01 Nov 2018

1. Background

Under Housing Pathways, the social housing sector which consists of public, community and Aboriginal housing, aims to provide secure, appropriate and affordable housing opportunities and assistance to all sections of the community with housing needs.

There are a range of housing assistance options available to achieve this aim, including:

  • Private rental assistance products
  • Private rental subsidies
  • Temporary accommodation
  • Emergency temporary accommodation
  • Supported and crisis accommodation
  • Affordable housing
  • Social housing.

The intent of this policy is to outline the various types of housing assistance available from social housing providers participating in Housing Pathways. The Social Housing Eligibility and Allocations Policy Supplement provides further information to support this document.

2. Scope

This policy applies to clients applying for various types of housing assistance, with the exception of supported and crisis accommodation and affordable housing.

3. Policy statement

The social housing sector provides housing assistance in NSW under Housing Pathways. This means that clients can apply for housing assistance online, by phone on 1800 422 322 or by accessing their local Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) Housing office or office of a participating community housing provider (CHP).

Social housing providers (FACS and CHPs) participating in Housing Pathways are responsible for responding to a range of client needs. Where a social housing provider does not deliver a specific housing product or service, the provider will facilitate the client’s access to another provider as required.

Clients cannot apply for the following forms of assistance through Housing Pathways:

  • shorter-term social housing, including crisis accommodation and transitional housing
  • group homes or boarding house arrangements
  • affordable housing.

To access any of the housing assistance options provided under Housing Pathways, households must meet the relevant eligibility criteria.

Generally, all applications will undergo an initial eligibility assessment to determine:

  • whether the client meets the eligibility criteria, and
  • the complexity and urgency of the client’s needs, and
  • any former tenants or occupants of social housing, and
  • the range of products for which the client may be eligible.

Following this assessment, the client may choose one or more of the products for which they may be eligible. The social housing provider will then:

  • conduct a more detailed eligibility assessment based on specific eligibility criteria for the relevant product, or
  • facilitate access to the product where they do not provide the product directly. For example, some community housing providers do not provide Rentstart products, but they will assist the client to access Rentstart from a provider that does.

Housing assistance options

Private rental assistance products

Private rental assistance products help people to access and maintain a tenancy in the private rental market. Private rental assistance products include the following:

Private rental brokerage service

The Private Rental Brokerage Service assists clients to develop and enhance their capacity to access the private rental market, with the client directing the process as much as possible to build their confidence and skills.

Tenancy facilitation

Tenancy facilitation provides clients with information about how to search and apply for housing in the private rental market. This service is offered to people who require limited assistance and who have the capacity to sustain a tenancy, but require additional help and information to navigate the private rental system.

Tenancy guarantee

A tenancy guarantee of up to $1500 is available to landlords/agents to cover rental arrears and/or property damage over and above the rental bond. The tenancy guarantee encourages private sector landlords and agents to rent properties to people who are having difficulty entering the private rental market.

Statements of satisfactory tenancy

Where a tenant or former tenant of FACS has a satisfactory tenancy history, FACS will provide a statement of satisfactory tenancy to assist the client to secure private rental housing when they are leaving, or have left, public housing.

Current or former tenants of community housing cannot apply for statements of satisfactory tenancy from FACS but may be eligible for a similar product, if offered by their community housing provider.

Rentstart

Rentstart products provide financial assistance for eligible clients to help them set up or maintain a tenancy in the private rental market. The type and level of assistance is based on the client’s individual circumstances and needs. There are five types of Rentstart assistance:

  • Rentstart Bond Loan – assistance to establish a tenancy in the private market, which is repayable to FACS.
  • Advance Rent – assistance for people experiencing severe financial barriers in accessing private rental accommodation.
  • Rentstart Tenancy Assistance – assistance to maintain a private tenancy through help with payment of rental arrears.
  • Temporary Accommodation – provides short term accommodation in low cost motels, caravan parks or similar for clients who are homeless.
  • Rentstart Move – bond loan assistance for public housing tenants leaving public housing because they are ineligible for a further lease when their current fixed term lease ends.

For more information, see the Private Rental Assistance Policy.

Private rental subsidies

A private rental subsidy contributes to the cost of a client’s weekly rent in private rental accommodation. The amount of rent a client actually pays is similar to the amount they would pay as a social housing tenant. The eligibility criteria for a private rental subsidy will differ, depending on the type of subsidy a client may receive and provides a medium-term solution to access affordable accommodation while waiting for a suitable social housing property.

For more information on private rental subsidies, see the Private Rental Assistance Policy.

Emergency temporary accommodation

FACS provides emergency temporary accommodation for up to three months for people who are not eligible for social housing, but who are experiencing a short-term housing crisis. This type of assistance is only available to people who are in extreme situations.  The intention is to assist people in the general community who are facing hardship due to a crisis or emergency, which has made them temporarily homeless.

For more information, see the Eligibility for Social Housing Policy.

Short-term and crisis accommodation

Through a range of programs, some community housing organisations provide specialist, short-term and medium-term housing for people who are homeless, or who are at risk of becoming homeless and are in crisis. They provide these services in partnership with specialist support agencies that help people to settle into stable accommodation.

Social housing

Social housing provides secure, affordable housing for people with a housing need on low to moderate incomes. Social housing encompasses properties owned or managed by FACS, community housing providers or the Aboriginal Housing Office.

Each provider manages their tenancies and client entitlements in accordance with the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and their own individual policies. For example, FACS offers all new tenants a fixed term tenancy of two, five or ten years depending on their circumstances, whereas community housing providers may offer continuous agreements. Community housing providers may ask new tenants for a bond when starting a tenancy, whereas FACS will only ask tenants who cause significant damage to their FACS Housing property to pay a bond. For more information, see the Rental Bonds Policy <insert link>.

Public housing

FACS manages public housing properties. FACS either owns these properties or leases them from the private rental market.

Community housing

Community housing providers manage community housing properties. These properties are either owned by the government, by the provider, or leased from the private rental market. Some providers also manage properties on behalf of other organisations under a 'fee for service' arrangement.

Community housing providers offer general social housing services but are able to respond with specialist help in response to the needs of their tenants and the local community where these arrangements are in place. Community housing providers are regulated by the Registrar of Community Housing and offer crisis, transitional, general social and affordable housing. Community housing providers are primarily not-for-profit companies limited by guarantee, whose core business is the management of subsidised rental housing for lower income households.

Aboriginal housing

Aboriginal housing is housing owned by the Aboriginal Housing Office. FACS or community housing providers manage Aboriginal housing on behalf of the Aboriginal Housing Office. FACS manages most properties with tenancy conditions similar to those of public housing. Applicants who are Aboriginal or have an Aboriginal person living in their household can apply for Aboriginal housing. Applicants listed for Aboriginal housing must confirm their Aboriginality. For more information on confirming Aboriginality, go to the Social Housing Eligibility and Allocations Policy Supplement section 3, Aboriginality.

Affordable housing

Affordable housing is housing for low to moderate income households and is different to social housing. Affordable housing developed through assistance provided by the NSW Government is managed in accordance with the NSW Affordable Housing Guidelines. Clients cannot apply for affordable housing assistance under Housing Pathways. For more information on affordable housing, see the  Affordable rental housing resources webpage on the FACS website.

For more information on social housing, see the Eligibility for Social Housing Policy.

Choosing a social housing provider

Clients may choose to receive offers of social housing for properties managed by:

  • any social housing provider, or
  • FACS only – this includes public and Aboriginal housing properties managed by FACS, or
  • Community housing only – this includes community and Aboriginal housing properties managed by any Housing Pathways community housing provider.

However, in some locations there may only be one type of social housing provider. In this situation, a client will not be able to choose their preferred social housing provider. A client’s details may be given to another social housing provider so they can be made an offer of social housing.

What happens if a client is eligible for social housing?

When a client is eligible for social housing, the provider will place them on the NSW housing register. FACS and community housing providers will then use this register to offer housing when a suitable property is available.

Allocating social housing

When a property becomes available, a social housing provider will generally offer the property to a client listed on the NSW Housing Register on a priority or a wait-turn basis.

Social housing providers will house a client according to their own allocation policy that is available to the public.

Clients approved for priority assistance, whether by FACS or a community housing provider, will be housed ahead of most other applicants on the NSW housing register. For this reason, they must demonstrate an urgent and ongoing need that they are unable to resolve themselves.

Generally, clients who are not approved for priority assistance will be offered housing in their chosen location when a suitable property becomes available.

Waiting times for social housing will vary according to the level of demand, the supply of social housing in the chosen location and the specific housing needs of the client.

4. Legislation and compliance

FACS and community housing providers are able to provide housing assistance in accordance with the Housing Act 2001.

5. Related documentation

6. Further information

Appeals and review of decisions

If a client disagrees with a decision a social housing provider has made, they should first discuss their concerns with a staff member from the provider that made the decision. If they still believe the social housing provider made an incorrect decision; the client can request a formal review of the decision.

For information on how reviews are conducted, the client can request a copy of the factsheet Appeals and reviewing decisions, or read the Client Service Delivery and Appeals Policy. This policy applies to applicants for public, community and Aboriginal housing.

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