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Living in Dignity: A look at the future of Disability Housing

Written by Ben Saravia,


You will often hear people saying that buying a house is one of the most stressful things that you will ever do in your life. This is because there is so much to do and a lot of uncertainty around the whole process. Will I find somewhere I can afford? Is now a good or a bad time to get on the property ladder? The list goes on and on. Now, take a moment to imagine how much harder this process might be for people living with a disability.


The Current Situation


Not enough supply

In Australia, there is simply not enough existing suitable housing for people living with disabilities. Long waiting lists for appropriate accommodation means that many are left with bleak choices, or no choices at all. The result is that many people either end up living with their elderly parents, or in regular accommodation which does not suit their needs. Many young people with disabilities can even end up living in aged care facilities or nursing homes. Currently, over 5600 Australians with a disability aged under 65 are living in aged care.


Costs

For many of us, the costs of buying a home these days are eye-watering. We budget for what we can afford and often have to make compromises. People with a disability have to budget for extensive alterations to regular accommodation to accommodate their needs. Stairlifts, widened hallways and doors, voice-activated locks and enlarged showers - the list goes on and on and can end up adding tens (if not hundreds) of thousands to final costs.


Location

In real estate, there is an old saying ‘location location location’, and this is even more vital for people with a disability. Access to local medical services, the ability to be supported by a carer, all mean that it is essential that you are close to local amenities and support services. This means that there is even greater pressure on the housing available.


The future and what’s being done.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. Amazing upcoming and existing technologies are giving people a new lease ( excuse the pun ) on life, allowing increased independence and self-sufficiency and most importantly, quality of life.


Purpose Built Housing

There is no debate that it is always preferable to start with the end in mind. In 2000, when Sydney held the Olympics and Paralympics, property developers Mirvac were awarded the contract for building the Olympic village. In doing so, Mirvac made incredible strides to build purpose-built accommodation for the Paralympians. 20 years on, Mirvac works closely with Summer Housing, a not-for-profit organisation that offers support and subsidised accommodation to people who are in or at risk of entering aged care facilities. Summer Housing is also a registered NDIS Service Provider of Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA Provider).

Mirvac Property Development recently handed over the keys to 10 ( of a total of 700) purpose-built apartments in its brand new Pavilions project at Sydney Olympic Park. Costing well over a million each, these purpose-built apartments are provided at a discount rental to tenants with disabilities.

Mirvac General Manager Toby Long who has been working with Summer Housing for three years says “We fully support the aspirations of Summer Housing to remove the barriers preventing young people with a disability from leading a full and productive life. The statistics, around younger people with a disability living in aged care, are shocking and something we must work together to address.”

Queenie Tran, Chief Operating Officer for Summer housings says, “Through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Summer Housing saw an opportunity to improve the quality of life for younger people with significant disabilities.”

Based in Sydney Olympic Park, they are conveniently close to essential amenities. The apartments also contain the latest smart technology such as voice-activated functionality, two-way communication with remote carers, as well as purpose-built layouts and other structural modifications. Importantly, they are also modern and don’t ‘feel’ like classic purpose-built housing and modified accommodation i.e. no one wants to feel like they live in a care facility!

Mr Long adds, “Sydney Olympic Park’s many amenities, including the train station, parks, walks, restaurants and leisure and sports facilities were designed to meet stringent Olympic and Paralympic accessibility standards,”


But it is more than just facilities and location.

People living with a disability and complex care needs should be given the opportunity to live in quality housing just like everyone else These apartments allow them to live as independently and productively as possible, to enjoy the sanctuary of their homes, and be near to amenities and to participate in the local community.

It is not only a case of shoulds, but also a recognition and celebration of what can be achieved, or as Queenie Tran so adeptly put it: “Partnering with leading developers and builders to deliver high-quality apartments in enviable locations has demonstrated that housing and supports for some of the most complex individuals is readily achievable”

Living with dignity improves and enhances their sense of self-worth and enhances their overall well being, and this benefits everyone.


Where to go for support

The Pavilion Project is a unique program that provides tailored solutions to individuals that are deemed to have an extreme functional impairment or very high support needs. As such, please note that not everyone with a disability will be eligible.

The best place to begin to find out more about the different types of support available under the NDIS scheme and to locate Specialist Disability Accommodation providers click here: (https://www.ndis.gov.au/providers/housing-and-living-supports-and-services/housing/specialist-disability-accommodation)

To find out more about summer housing go to their website: https://summerhousing.org.au/ To watch a great video that provides insight into Specialist Disability Accommodation, and the perspective and interview from a someone benefiting from this scheme: check out the video below.

https://youtu.be/bI_-sMPe5hU To find out more about the Pavilion Projects and other projects by Mirvac go to: https://www.mirvac.com/about/news-and-media/pavilions-offers-hope-for-young-people-with-a-disability-stuck-in-aged-care


References

National Disability Insurance Scheme (Specialist Disability Accommodation) Rules 2020

https://summerhousing.org.au/

https://www.domain.com.au/news/rental-housing-designed-for-tenants-with-a-disability-handed-over-to-new-residents-1012342


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