Local government rarely gets pro-active about accessible housing or Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA). But the City of Whittlesea bucked the trend. This local government area is one of the fastest growing communities in Victoria. It also has a significant population of residents with a disability, most of whom are ineligible for SDA housing. Consequently, action was needed for mainstream accessible housing.
The Disability Housing Project was established as part of Council’s commitment to inclusion. The project identified the level of demand for both accessible and SDA housing. This information was then used to inform policy and strategic action.
Rosie Beaumont and Linda Martin-Chew tell their story of venturing into the emerging disability housing market in their presentation at the UD2021 Conference. Council wanted to explore opportunities to progress commitment to accessible and affordable housing. They involved disability advocates, housing developers, strategic and social planners and residents with disability in the project. Developers keen to get into the SDA market were not going to solve the need for accessible housing overall. This was especially the case in the rental sector.
The end result was better industry engagement to promote housing that benefits the whole community. It is an example of joining the dots between the niche of specialist housing and mainstream housing.
There is more detail in the published extended abstract, “From Niche to Mainstream: Local government and the specialist disability housing sector”.
Editor’s Note: Rosie and Linda were clearly passionate about the topic in their presentation. Whittlesea was one of only four councils that joined the campaign for mandated access features in all new housing.