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About Future Directions

Future Directions is a 10 year plan to drive better outcomes for social housing tenants.


The NSW Government is transforming the current social housing system to break the cycle of disadvantage. The system was developed in the 1940s for working families with low incomes. Today the system supports a different demographic – the most vulnerable people in our community who need a safety net.

Future Directions for Social Housing in NSW sets out the Government’s 10-year vision for social housing, announced on 24 January 2016. This vision which will reduce homelessness, provide more housing and support for those needing social housing and provide more support to help people divert from or successfully transition out of the social housing system.

Future Directions is underpinned by three strategic priorities:

  • More social housing
  • More opportunities, support and incentives to avoid and/or leave social housing
  • A better social housing experience.

Future Directions is backed by the whole of Government – including Health, Education, Justice, Planning and Environment, Industry and Family and Community Services – and will change the way social housing works in NSW.

This is an exciting time for social housing in NSW, with opportunities for partnerships between government, community organisations and the private sector. Together we can create an innovative system that will respond to the needs of the community and continuously improve.

More social housing

The demand for social and affordable housing is increasing, with around 48,000 households now on the NSW social housing waiting list at 30 June 2018. The private market is increasingly unaffordable for people on low incomes, and people in social housing tenancies are staying longer.

We are increasing the number of homes and make the best use of existing ones. This involves a large scale program to build a mix of social, affordable and private homes. Our focus is to build integrated communities that are close to transport, education and support services.

More opportunities, support and incentives to build housing independence

Under Future Directions, we are moving towards a system where housing assistance is seen as a pathway to independence and an enabler of improved social and economic participation for tenants living in vibrant and economically diverse communities.

To do this we are providing more opportunities and support, such as increasing the use of private rental assistance products by 60% (to 37,000 in 2025).

A better experience

We want more people in social housing feeling safer and participating in their local community. We are focusing on access for priority clients, high quality customer service, and suitable and stable housing.

More social housing

We are increasing the number of homes and making the best use of existing ones. This involves a large scale program to build a mix of social, affordable and private homes. Our focus is to build integrated communities that are close to transport, education and support services.

This large-scale building program will deliver up to 23,000 new and replacement social and affordable dwellings.

We are improving existing social housing properties, which may require some tenants to be temporarily relocated. DCJ will work closely with communities to make sure tenants are properly looked after and no unnecessary disruption is caused.

Social housing is part of the NSW Government’s approach to uncover the best innovative ideas and know-how from outside government through a competitive selection process. A number of Future Directions programs will increase social housing:

  • Communities Plus - redevelops Land and Housing Corporation sites throughout metropolitan Sydney and regional NSW into sustainable mixed communities. This includes developments with pilot programs that link housing assistance to education, training and local employment opportunities.
  • Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF) - supports projects which deliver additional social and affordable housing stock through innovative partnerships between community housing providers (CHPs), non-government organisations (NGOs) and the private sector.
  • Social impact investment - the NSW Office of Social Impact Investment has been established to grow the social impact market and has delivered Australia’s first two Social Benefit Bonds, seeking to deliver better services and results for families at risk.

More opportunities, support and incentives to build housing independence

There are many barriers to building independence and leaving social housing. These include access to education, finding work and having affordable housing options to transition to.

DCJ and other government agencies are working together to make services better for tenants. This includes:

  • giving young people and families with children homes that are closer to schools and jobs
  • investing $2 million toward early childhood education services for children living in social housing to ensure school readiness.
  • funding NSW Health to deliver a home visiting program for mothers and babies in social housing
  • supporting transition to affordable housing to give tenants a stepping stone out of social housing.

Supporting clients to achieve education and work goals

We are helping social housing clients take advantage of economic opportunities through new and expanded programs to help build housing independence.

  • DCJ Scholarships assist high school, TAFE and university students who are living in social housing, out-of-home care, crisis/supported accommodation, receiving private rental assistance or on the NSW Housing Register.
  • Opportunity Pathways will help social housing clients across NSW to build housing independence through training, practical assistance and work opportunities. The program commences in March 2019 and will be available for three years to public, community and Aboriginal housing tenants, as well as their household members, people on the NSW Housing Register and Rent Choice recipients.
  • Career Pathways helps social housing tenants to train and gain on-the-job experience. The program operates across seven districts and provides wrap-around support and services to clients, supporting them to enrol in and complete a partial qualification, complete work experience and enter paid employment and/or further vocational or teritary study. The Careers Pathway program will end on 30 June 2019.
  • Employing social housing tenants as part of new maintenance and building contracts.
  • The Start Work Bonus supports tenants when starting or returning to work by providing a rent freeze of up to 26 weeks where rent is not adjusted to the new income level.
  • Smart and Skilled Fee-Free Scholarships are available to clients to assist them to get the skills they need to find a job without having to worry about course fees.

Supporting clients to access the private rental market

  • Private rental assistance is a suite of products and services designed to help people set up or maintain a tenancy in the private rental market.
  • The Rent Choice initiative provides clients with rental subsidy for up to 36 months in the private market and support services to build their capability to transition to independent housing.
  • The Start Safely Program provides private rental subsidy for up to 36 months for people escaping family or domestic violence who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

A ‘place-making’ approach to building communities

Place Plans are tailored plans developed with social housing communities to create a connected community.

Place Plans combine co-designed community initiatives in partnership with government, councils and local support providers to improve the lives of residents.

There are 16 project teams delivering Place Plans across 20 sites in NSW.

A better social housing experience

A NSW Government priority is to improve service delivery across all of the public service. NSW’s social housing tenant satisfaction levels, particularly for public housing tenants, trail those of other jurisdictions.

We are taking steps to improve client satisfaction levels in customer service, amenity and safety.

We’re moving to a simpler, more modern way of delivering services to our clients and we’re giving them a choice in how they access our services. One of the ways we are delivering on this commitment is through MyHousing online services  where clients can:

  • apply for Housing Assistance
  • manage their account and information
  • request a non-urgent repair
  • make payments.

Other steps include:

  • A new maintenance contract that will improve services, efficiency, and tenant experience.
  • Improving the liveability and amenity of social housing communities through the $20 million Social Housing Community Improvement Fund. Read more about SHCIF program and successful projects.
  • Working in partnership with clients, stakeholders and communities to develop and implement local action plans in selected locations across NSW. Each Place Plan identifies shared priorities to build opportunity, strengthen social housing communities, improve client outcomes and enhance liveability.

How we got here

In developing the Future Directions strategy, the NSW Government asked the community to provide innovative ideas to reform the system.

This extensive consultation process began with the release of Social Housing in NSW: a discussion paper for input and comment.

Consultations ran from November 2014 to February 2015. DCJ held face-to-face consultations sessions, round tables and focus groups. We also called for submissions in response to the discussion paper and enabled on-line feedback. Throughout the process a number of themes emerged consistently as priorities for us to consider when developing a new direction for social housing in NSW.

Following the consultations, DCJ released a What We Heard summary paper.

On the 25 May 2015, the Minister for Family and Community Services and Social Housing held a discussion forum at Sydney Technology Park as a follow up to the public consultation process. Approximately 200 participants took part in the discussion forum, including social housing tenants and representatives of the finance, community housing, social enterprise, social welfare, disability, aged care/retirement living, and property development sectors. A report, Thinking about the future, summarises feedback from the forum.

The NSW Government continues to work closely with the community on the implementation of Future Directions.

Future Directions FAQ

What is Future Directions?

Future Directions is a 10 year plan to drive better outcomes for social housing tenants.
Future Directions focuses on 3 areas:

  • more new and improved social housing
  • more opportunities and support for people to avoid or transition through social housing
  • a better experience for tenants.

What are the key features of Future Directions?

By 2025, we will:

  • work with the non-government and private sector to deliver 23,000 new and replacement homes
  • transfer management of government owned homes to the non-government sector, moving from around 18% to 35% of all social housing in NSW being managed by the sector
  • continue to introduce measures to make sure social housing meets the changing needs of tenants.

What are the benefits of transferring the management of social housing to the community housing and non-government sector?

We want to make sure social housing has a more positive impact on people’s lives. Increasing the management of social housing properties by the community housing providers will:

  • make the most of community networks to deliver better long term outcomes for tenants and applicants
  • make the social housing system stronger and more diverse
  • access more sources of funding that are available to community housing providers to better support tenants
  • build up the skills and size of the community housing sector.

Find out more about the Management Transfer Program.

How many new homes will be built under Future Directions?

The proposed program will deliver approximately 23,000 new and redeveloped social housing properties and 500 affordable dwellings, to be used for people transitioning out of social housing or for people to avoid entering the system. Old housing stock will be renewed with modern homes that meet people’s needs.

How will current and future social housing tenants benefit from redevelopments?

The redevelopment program will enable us to deliver more social housing that will assist more people on the housing wait list. Redeveloping current sites offers tenants better quality social housing in mixed communities, with a combination of social housing, affordable housing and private rental tenants living in the same area. Redeveloped properties deliver new and improved housing that is better designed to suit tenants’ needs and will be close to amenities, transport, education and employment.

Where will tenants be relocated to if their property undergoes redevelopment?

During redevelopments, we consult with tenants and try to relocate them to other social housing properties within the local area.

We work closely with communities throughout the relocation process to avoid unnecessary disruption to tenants’ lives. These redevelopments deliver new and improved housing that is better designed to suit tenants’ needs. Tenants can relocate back once the redevelopment is completed.

How will Future Directions improve employment opportunities for tenants?

We are implementing a number of initiatives to increase employment opportunities for tenants in social housing. These include:

  • giving young people and families with children homes that are closer to better schools and jobs
  • employing social housing tenants as part of new maintenance and building contracts
  • Opportunity Pathways, a voluntary program that will connect up to 3000 clients with education and training, practical assistance and employment opportunities in order to find and maintain a job.

How will Future Directions improve educational opportunities for children in social housing?

Families with children will be given homes that are closer to better educational opportunities. Improving access to education improves lifelong outcomes for children growing up in social housing.

What opportunities will be provided for families with non-school aged children?

The NSW Government will invest $2 million toward the establishment of new early childhood education centres in social housing areas. This will improve a range of outcomes for children in social housing, including school readiness, school completion and health.

Why is the NSW Government changing the system?

The social housing system needs to adapt to better serve vulnerable people in NSW. The current system is challenged by limited growth in rental income, constrained funding, ageing assets and rising operational costs.

The new system will better be able to provide vulnerable people with a safety net in times of need, offer tenants supported pathways to independence while housing more people from the waiting list.

What consultation took place and who was consulted?

In developing the Future Directions strategy, the NSW Government undertook extensive consultation with the community. For more information, visit how we got here.

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Last updated: 24 Sep 2019