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How is affordable housing different to social housing?

Affordable housing is not the same as social housing.

Social housing is government subsidised, long-term, rental housing for people on very low incomes with a housing need. Social housing includes public, community and Aboriginal housing. Public housing is managed by Homes NSW while community housing is managed by non-government organisations.

Housing need may include homelessness, experience of family violence or other complex needs such as medical or age-related support needs. People accessing social housing are very unlikely to be able to afford private rental accommodation.

Affordable housing is rental housing for very low to moderate income households.  It is open to a broader range of household incomes than social housing.  Households do not have to be eligible for social housing to apply for affordable housing, though people who are eligible for social housing may also be eligible for affordable housing properties.

Affordable housing is managed more like a private rental property, but there are eligibility criteria and the managers are mostly not for profit community housing providers. When there is a vacancy for an affordable housing property, this is usually advertised and people submit an application to the manager as they would if they were applying for a property in the private rental market. Some managers may keep waiting lists if there is no vacancy, but this is not required.

Rents for affordable housing are usually calculated differently to social housing and there are different tenancy arrangements. Generally, affordable housing tenants cannot transfer between properties and household members cannot apply to take over a tenancy.

Some affordable housing properties are available to people who are also eligible for social housing and on the NSW Housing Register. If someone on the NSW Housing Register is eligible and accepts a tenancy in an affordable housing property, they will be considered suitably housed and removed from the NSW Housing Register.

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Last updated: 10 Apr 2024