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Future Directions for Social Housing in NSW

Future Directions sets out the Government’s vision for social housing over the next 10 years


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 vision for social housing over the next 10 years. A 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, Communities and Justice, Planning and Environment, and Industry – 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 more than 50,000 households waiting for social housing. The private market is increasingly unaffordable for people on low incomes, and people in social housing tenancies are staying longer.

We will increase the number of homes and make the best use of existing ones. This will involve 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

In the 10 years of Future Directions we will move 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 will provide more opportunities and support, such as increase the use of private rental assistance products by 60% (from 27,000 assistances to 37,000 in 2025).

A better experience

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

Increase housing supply

We will increase the number of dwellings and make the best use of existing ones. This will involve 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 dwellings, 500 new affordable dwellings, and 40,000 new private dwellings.

We will improve existing social housing properties, which may require some tenants to be temporarily relocated. The Department of Communities and Justice (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 will include 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.

LAHC, DCJ and other government agencies will work 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. The Housing and Accommodation Support Initiative (HASI) provides people with mental health problems with access to stable housing linked to clinical and psychosocial rehabilitation services.

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  Rentstart Bond Loan and Rent Advance help people to set up a tenancy
  • 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 independence 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

Approximately 40% of social housing in NSW are located in concentrated housing estates. While a range of social housing estates function relatively well, many estates experience high levels of crime, unemployment, domestic violence, tenancy management problems, poor educational outcomes and associated child protection issues. These experiences can be passed on through multiple generations, reinforcing the cycle of disadvantage. As part of Future Directions Service Improvement Initiatives, Place Plans will be introduced that will focus on:

  • Better access to opportunities such as improved educational outcomes and pathways to training and jobs. This includes building life skills, resilience and community engagement to break down stigmas and foster community leadership
  • Timely access to effective and coordinated services such as integrated case management
  • Building a stronger and safer community with a positive identity
  • Supporting Aboriginal community healing and activities to foster community pride
  • Improved physical environment in social housing areas, including infrastructure and community facilities such as working with council and residents to improve the appearance of homes, streets, parks and community facilities.

A better social housing experience

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

DCJ is 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.

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 and a summary of the paper.

Consultations ran from November 2014 to February 2015. FACS 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, FACS released a What We Heard summary paper.

On the 25 May 2015, Minister Hazzard held a discussion forum at Sydney Technology Park – chaired by the Hon Nick Greiner and the Hon Morris Iemma – 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?

Over the next 10 years the Department of Family and Community Services 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?

The NSW Government wants 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.

For further information on the Social Housing Management Transfers 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 and 40,000 private dwellings. 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 the NSW Government to deliver more social housing that will assist more people on the housing wait list. Redeveloping current sites will offer 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 will ensure 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 the redevelopment, DCJ will consult with tenants and look to relocate tenants to other social housing properties within the local area.

DCJ will work closely with communities throughout the relocation process to avoid unnecessary disruption to tenants’ lives. These redevelopments will ensure 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?

DCJ will implement 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
  • introducing Personal Support Plans to help tenants access additional support to achieve education and work goals
  • expanding the Careers in Caring program to help tenants get training and work in the disability and aged care industries.

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 will improve 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.