Page 404 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 4 March 2008

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One of the key changes to the allocation system has been the shift to a system based on identification of priority needs. Accordingly, the previous housing allocation list has been abolished in favour of an allocation system based on comparative assessment. The waiting list is now grouped into three areas: priority housing, high-needs housing and standard housing.

Priority housing status may be granted to an applicant who has a range of complex needs. Up to 150 applicants can be assigned to this category at any one time. Since the inception of this system, the number of people on this list has not exceeded 50 applicants. As at 3 March 2008, there were 22 people on the priority housing list. Complex needs include homelessness; mental health or medical issues; disability, including frail aged; women and children escaping domestic violence; Indigenous persons facing complex issues; and children at risk, including their parents and carers.

Applicants are also expected to demonstrate an inability to find affordable housing on the private market. For this purpose, rent on the private market will be deemed unaffordable where it exceeds 50 per cent of the household income. Applicants in this category are allocated assistance on a needs basis rather than a chronological basis, and to date 87.5 per cent of applicants have been housed within three months.

The determination of applicants for the priority housing category is undertaken by a multidisciplinary panel. This panel draws together experts from across ACT government and the community sector to assist in determining the comparative need of applicants and making appropriate property allocation.

Applicants who are assessed as eligible for priority housing are now being housed, as at 3 March 2008, within 80 days. The average waiting time for priority housing under the previous system was in excess of nine months. An average of less than three months is a great outcome compared with the waiting time of nine to 12 months. Once priority housing status has been determined, Housing ACT commences work with the applicant to identify property requirements and to put arrangements in place to support the client into a sustainable tenancy.

High-needs housing status may be granted to applicants who can demonstrate private rental barriers such as extreme unaffordability and ongoing discrimination; special needs that cannot be catered for through the private housing market; and/or severely overcrowded living conditions placing children at risk. As at 3 March, there were 710 applicants on this register. On average, the applicants waited 343 days to be housed. Standard housing status is assigned to applicants on incomes within the ACT public housing eligibility criteria.

A key success of this new model has been the reduced waiting time for people assessed as being most in need. However, there have also been benefits to the complete housing system. Because the priority housing category is tightly managed, there is now greater movement in the high-needs and even standard housing categories as well. This would not have been possible under the previous system.

MR SPEAKER: Is there a supplementary question?

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