The social housing system is designed as a safety net for the most vulnerable people in our community – including the elderly, people with a disability or severe and chronic mental health illness, carers with long term caring responsibilities, people experiencing drug and alcohol dependency, and people experiencing domestic and family violence.
However, demand for social and affordable rental housing is increasing. An increasingly unaffordable private rental market for people on low incomes, responses to homelessness and fewer social housing vacancies have driven the growth in the waiting list, which has now reached 60,000 households across NSW.
At the same time, people are staying in social housing longer, with more than 50% of people in social housing holding a lease for 10 years or more.
There are people in the social housing system who could, over time and with the right opportunities, become independent and no longer require government support. This includes families with children, young people and job seekers.
Opportunity Knocks is an incentivised, performance coaching based initiative that will enable people to access accommodation and tailored wraparound services, including training and employment specialists, and services that address disadvantage – such as domestic and family violence, homelessness, and drug and alcohol dependency – supporting them into long-term housing, employment and social independence.
This unique and innovative program provides the added incentive of home ownership through a shared equity loan product with Community Sector Banking. This requires a much lower deposit and income compared to a standard loan product.
There are four key steps in the program.
After an eligibility assessment, the participant will be provided with a personal coach (incentive 1) and a rental property, subsidised by Housing Plus (incentive 2). The participant will be asked to identify personal goals and a personal plan will be designed to include the support required to achieve these goals. This holistic needs assessment will be reviewed at six monthly intervals during the two-year participation period, and adjustments will be made as necessary to ensure the participant is on track for meeting their identified goals (incentive 3).
Participants that successfully achieve their goals will exit the program and be assisted into long-term housing, either in the private rental market or homeownership, depending on their circumstances (e.g. capacity to build savings, consistent rental history/employment history).
Opportunity Knocks will help people into long-term employment by implementing a central access point that will streamline access to housing and wraparound support services. This integrated system will mean that participants will only have to tell their story once to a service provider and not have to re-iterate their circumstances until they find the assistance they need. Case coordination and coaching will increase social inclusion by building capacity in individuals and providing links to social and economic participation by helping to navigate institutional complexity.
We are currently undertaking a pilot to test the service model and develop efficiencies. Ten people living in and around Orange are participating in our pilot.
Our partners in the program are as follows:
If you are interested in learning more about Opportunity Knocks, please contact Housing Plus on 1800 603 300.
Housing Plus is a progressive social enterprise that re-invests ALL profits back into improving social outcomes for individuals and communities in regional NSW. Housing Plus is a registered not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, and is a Tier 1 accredited community housing provider.
Suite 8, Level 2, 113 Byng Street
Orange NSW 2800
PO Box 968 ORANGE NSW 2800
Phone: 1800 603 300
Fax: (02) 6361 1609