Chapter 6 Outcome 2 - Housing

Outcome 2 at a glance

Access to affordable, safe housing through: payments and support services; and rental subsidies to low and moderate income households.

Outcome and programs

Figure 6.1 shows the Outcome 2 program structure.

Figure 6.1 Outcome 2 program

Figure-6.1

Highlights

Program 2.2: Housing Assistance and Homelessness Prevention

The objective of program 2.2 is to provide financial incentives to increase the housing supply and provide rental subsidies for low- and moderate-income households, and to fund homelessness prevention initiatives to reduce the impact of homelessness.

The program has the following components:

Responsibility for the Housing Affordability Fund component of the program was transferred to the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities under the Administrative Arrangements Orders.

Housing Assistance

The objectives of the Housing Assistance component are to ensure that all Australians have access to affordable, safe and sustainable housing through the National Affordable Housing Agreement and to increase the supply of affordable safe housing to low- and moderate-income households in each state and territory under the Social Housing Initiative and the National Partnership Agreement on Social Housing.

Social Housing Initiative

The Social Housing Initiative, a key component of the Nation Building—Economic Stimulus Plan, is the largest investment by an Australian Government in social housing. The initiative provides $5.238 billion for new construction over three-and-a-half years, from 2008–09 to 2011–12. A further $400 million was allocated over two years from 2008–09 to 2009–10 to undertake repair and maintenance work that benefited existing social housing dwellings.

At 30 June 2011, construction had begun on over 19,200 new social housing dwellings, and over 15,400 had been completed. Repairs and maintenance had been completed on approximately 80,000 existing social housing dwellings, 12,000 of which would have been lost to the social housing stock without this work.

National Partnership Agreement on Social Housing

The National Partnership Agreement on Social Housing provided $400 million to build between 1,600 and 2,100 new dwellings. The increased supply of housing contributed to reducing homelessness and improving outcomes for homeless and Indigenous Australians.

As at 30 June 2011, 1,540 dwellings had been completed. Of the 1,322 dwellings for which tenant data is available, 708 (54 per cent) went to people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Homelessness Prevention

The objective of the Homelessness Prevention component is to provide funding to support innovative prevention and early intervention initiatives to reduce homelessness and its impact, particularly on families and young people, and to build the evidence base to support future policy and planning.

National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness

FaHCSIA works in partnership with states and territories to improve the housing outcomes of Australians. The Department is also responsible for a range of initiatives to address homelessness and leads whole-of-government efforts to achieve the Government’s homelessness targets. Much of this work is done in partnership with states and territories under the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness that supports the National Affordable Housing Agreement. Payments under COAG national agreements are made by the Treasury.

Under the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness, states and territories submitted annual performance reports for 2009–10. The reports focus on achievements and results in service delivery. Copies of the reports are on the FaHCSIA website.

FaHCSIA reviewed implementation plans with states and territories in May and June 2011 to ensure that they reflect the activity that is planned or underway under the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness.

Prime Minister’s Council on Homelessness

The Prime Minister’s Council on Homelessness was established as an independent body in July 2009 as an initiative under the White Paper on Homelessness, The road home. The council’s role is to provide advice on and monitor implementation of the homelessness reform agenda, and to advise the Government on progress, risks and emerging issues. FaHCSIA provides secretariat support to the council.

The council met four times in 2010–11 and considered prominent issues in homelessness prevention and support, including Indigenous homelessness, youth homelessness, aged care, health and mental health, economic participation, homelessness data development and regional homelessness. The council hosted workshops on rough sleeping at the Sixth National Homelessness Conference and made representations to the Counting the homeless methodological review conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Employment Services 2012 Consultations conducted by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations 2012 Taskforce.

Homelessness Delivery Review Board

The Homelessness Delivery Review Board is a high-level governance mechanism led by deputy secretaries of agencies with responsibilities for homelessness reforms. The board, established in late 2009, met 11 times in 2010–11. Nine of these were board meetings and two were workshops.

The board is responsible for:

Household Organisational Management Expenses Advice Program

The Household Organisational Management Expenses (HOME) Advice Program assists families who face difficulty in maintaining tenancies or home ownership due to personal or financial circumstances. The Department delivers the program through a partnership with Centrelink and community agencies in eight locations throughout Australia—one in each state and territory. The program was allocated $1.398 million in 2010–11.

Reconnect services

The Reconnect program uses family-focused early intervention strategies to help young people stabilise their living situation, achieve family reconciliation, and improve their level of engagement with work, education, training and the community. Reconnect services work collaboratively with other agencies to build community capacity to prevent homelessness. There are 104 Reconnect services in metropolitan, regional, rural and remote locations around Australia, including a number of specialist services such as 10 Indigenous and 13 Newly Arrived Youth specialists. The Reconnect program was allocated $23.516 million in 2010–11 and 6,015 cases of support were provided.‡

National Homelessness Strategy

In 2010–11, the National Homelessness Strategy focused on disseminating knowledge about homelessness and raising awareness of best practice models that prevent and respond to homelessness. The Commonwealth is funding the states to trial 11 one-off proposals for new ways of service integration over two years, 2009–10 and 2010–11, at a cost of $3.1 million.

National Homelessness Research Agenda

The National Homelessness Research Agenda sets out the national priorities for research that will contribute to the whole-of-government response to homelessness.

The four major components of the National Homelessness Research Agenda are:

The Journeys Home study aims to improve the understanding of homelessness and the risk of becoming homeless. The fieldwork will run from September 2011 to May 2013.

Research partnerships are multi-year partnerships that focus on an agreed program of research. Projects include examining street-to-home programs across Australia, assessing the capacity of homeless people to obtain work and developing service responses to homeless Indigenous people. In 2010–11, $1,052,400 (GST exclusive) was invested in the partnerships.

Research projects are an important bottom-up approach to give non-government organisations and researchers the capacity to respond to emerging priorities. In 2010–11, $642,277 (GST exclusive) was invested in the research projects.

The National Homelessness Information Clearinghouse provides an online site to share resources, ideas and information to help address homelessness in Australia. The clearinghouse is funded by FaHCSIA and $160,000 (GST exclusive) was allocated in 2010–11.

Rent Assistance

Rent Assistance is a non-taxable income supplement paid to eligible Australian residents who rent accommodation in the private rental market and community housing.

To be eligible for Rent Assistance, a person must first qualify for an income support payment, more than the base rate of FTB A, or a service pension, and must pay a minimum amount of rent, called the ‘rent threshold’. Rent Assistance is paid at the rate of 75 cents for each dollar above the rent threshold up to a maximum rate. Rent Assistance rates are based on a person’s family situation and the amount of rent they pay.

Summary of performance

Table 6.1 summarises the Department’s results for program 2.2 against the key performance indicators published in the
2010–11 PB Statements.

Table 6.1 Program 2.2—key performance indicators

Key performance indicator Result
Homelessness Prevention
Proportion of clients reporting an improved situation after assistance from homelessness prevention programs 84%
Rent Assistance
Proportion of Rent Assistance recipients in rental stress before and after receiving Rent Assistance

Before Rent Assistance: 68%

After Rent Assistance: 40%

Proportion of Rent Assistance recipients paying enough rent to receive the maximum rate of assistance 74.5%
Proportion of clients assisted who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander 4.1%
Number of recipients 1,213,373 individuals and families
Administered outlays $3.13 billion

Note: Data for the Housing Affordability Fund is not reported because responsibility for this component was transferred to the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities under the Administrative Arrangements Orders.

Table 6.2 summarises the Department’s results for program 2.2 against the deliverables published in the 2010–11 PB Statements.

Table 6.2 Program 2.2—deliverables

Deliverable Result
Homelessness Prevention
Number of individuals/families assisted through homelessness prevention services

Individuals: 7,491

Families: 2,233

Rent Assistance
Rent Assistance payments are made through Centrelink to eligible claimants under the provisions of social security and family assistance law Payments were made as described

Note: Data for the Housing Affordability Fund is not reported because responsibility for this component was transferred to the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities under Administrative Arrangements Orders.

Outlook for Outcome 2

FaHCSIA will continue to play a leading role in providing low-income rental assistance, and in developing policy on social housing and homelessness. Responsibilities in housing complement FaHCSIA’s policy roles in disability, mental health, families, Indigenous affairs and community development.

In 2011–12, FaHCSIA will continue to work with states and territories to deliver the social housing and homelessness reform agenda, and to provide Commonwealth assistance under the National Affordable Housing Agreement and associated national partnership agreements.

FaHCSIA will continue to deliver safety net assistance to allow low-income earners to access safe and secure housing, including approximately $3 billion annually in Rent Assistance payments to support low-income households in the private rental market.

The Social Housing Initiative will continue in 2011–12. The Department expects that 19,600 new dwellings will be completed by the end of June 2012.

In 2011–12 the Department will continue to focus on improving multi-agency responses to homelessness. This whole-of-government approach aims to improve efforts to identify those who are experiencing or are at risk of entrenched homelessness, assess their needs and coordinate support.

A strong commitment to cross-portfolio approaches to reducing homelessness will ensure a consistent, integrated response to homelessness prevention across departments.

In 2011–12, FaHCSIA will continue to work with states and territories, the homelessness services sector and people experiencing homelessness to develop a national quality framework to improve the quality and integration of services for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Core elements of the framework include a national homelessness charter, national quality standards and nationally consistent complaints mechanisms.

The term of the Prime Minister’s Council on Homelessness has been extended from June 2011 to June 2013 so that the council can continue to provide independent advice on homelessness.

The mid-term review of the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness will be completed in late 2011 and will focus on improving performance reporting and the measurement of progress towards agreed outcomes. The Review Working Group is expected to recommend a revised performance reporting framework to COAG that will enable better measurement of homelessness outcomes for the final two years of the agreement.

In 2010–11, COAG announced that the performance frameworks of each national agreement will be reviewed to ensure that progress is measured and that all jurisdictions are clearly accountable to the public and COAG for their efforts. The review of the National Affordable Housing Agreement will begin in August 2011 and conclude by June 2012.

FaHCSIA is working with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to implement a new Specialist Homelessness Services collection and client management system that will provide a more detailed and accurate picture of homelessness. The Specialist Homelessness Services collection begins on 1 July 2011 and replaces the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program collection. The new collection will provide improved data and more timely information about clients and the services they receive, support the management of services to homeless people and help inform future policy.

*Under the Administrative Arrangements Orders of 14 September and 14 October 2010, responsibility for the National Rental Affordability Scheme and the Housing Affordability Fund was transferred from FaHCSIA to the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. The Department no longer reports on the Affordable Housing program (former program 2.1). As a result, the Housing Assistance and Homelessness Prevention program is now the sole program reported on in Outcome 2.

‡Please note: Figures on client data can change daily due to service providers’ capacity to continually update data.

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