Linda Martin-Chew

Supporting beneficial housing models in a dynamic disability housing market: a cross-sectoral response

Presenter: Linda Martin-Chew, Senior Strategic Policy Planner, City of Whittlesea

Oral Presentation

The City of Whittlesea supports one of the fastest growing communities in Victoria, with a population of 220,000 and more than 12 housing developers active across the municipality. Whittlesea also supports a significant population of residents with disability and an established disability housing sector, historically dominated by institutional and group home accommodation. In 2016, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) rolled out across the municipality, offering substantial investment to grow a Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) market. This investment represented a unique opportunity for residents with the highest levels of support needs to move beyond the bounds of institutional living into housing that approximated a mainstream experience of home.

This presentation tells the story of the City of Whittlesea’s journey into this emerging disability housing market, initially pulled in by the advances of speculative developers but then deliberately exploring the opportunities to progress the Council’s strong policy commitment to accessible and affordable housing.

At the heart of this journey was community-based consultation with disability advocates, housing developers, strategic and social planners and residents with disability. Conversations revealed challenges including a disconnect between the areas of greatest need in the community and SDA investment, a growing number of residents with disability entering the private rental market, planning proposals that responded to the funding opportunity of SDA but not the social intent, a lack of regulations to prohibit poor housing models and planning conventions and community concerns that created barriers to innovation.

Feeding this local intelligence into the policy planning and review cycle, Council developed strategies to reduce barriers to the supply of appropriate disability housing and strengthen industry engagement to promote accessible design and housing models of benefit to the whole community.