“One organisation has created a revolutionary housing solution for the disability sector.“
Prioritising security in accessible housing
The nest metaphor is used for good reason when we talk about moving out of home. It is a rite of passage for child and parent alike, as one finds their figurative wings to begin living an independent life.
It is no different for people with a disability. For 29-year-old Adam, he’s finally been able to move out of home and his mother, Catherine, is now an empty nester, one who can rest assured that her son has secure long-term accommodation.
This is all thanks to Hearth Housing, which has created a revolutionary housing solution for the 94 per cent of people in the NDIS who are not eligible for the federal government’s specialist disability accommodation (SDA) housing support.
“Most people live with their parents or are generally in group home settings,” explains Hearth Housing founder Justin Scanlon, who wanted to provide a viable alternative that would benefit both his own son Tristan, who has a disability, and the disability sector.
“In a group home, people with a disability do not generally have a choice of who they live with and who supports them,” explains Scanlon.
He says the open rental market is often prohibitively expensive for people with a disability – especially if they cannot work – because government rental support is insufficient to cover the cost of renting somewhere with suitable access to family, transport and amenities. And even if an individual finds a suitable home to rent, the arrangement can be precarious. “People can rent but they may get kicked out,” he says.
Hearth Housing changes all this. Scanlon, who also created Hearth Support Services, has spent the past several years studying housing options and consulting experts such as PricewaterhouseCoopers to develop a “bricks and mortar solution”.
“Most people with a disability are more than able to live in housing embedded in the community that does not need significant modification,” he says. “So we looked at how can we take the current government inputs, and how can we then take private investment, and provide long-term surety of housing”
By partnering with organisations such as BrickX, a regulated managed investment scheme, Hearth Housing is acquiring properties it can then rent at an affordable price to people with a disability on a long-term lease basis.
Scanlon’s organisation has a growing portfolio that includes properties in areas across Victoria. “BrickX has secured Hearth Housing’s next property in an inner suburb of Bendigo, in close proximity to the Bendigo Special Disability School,” he says.
What this means for Adam is that he’s been living in a Hearth house for the past nine months, enabled by his support team.
“Many families prioritise the quality of the support worker organisation over the house, although people also need a home, so the right combination is in significant demand, ”says Scanlon.
“We provide families with the opportunity to contribute financially to decide on where their son or daughter lives, who they live with and who supports them. In regional Victoria, where the cost of housing is lower, Hearth Housing can be provided at a much lower or at times negligible contribution from families,” he says.