Streamlining SDA investment: Easing provider barriers

Barriers hindering the program's growth revealed

Streamlining SDA investment: Easing provider barriers


By Mina Martin

New AHURI research has pointed to significant barriers created by the Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) program’s restrictions, impacting private market investment and the involvement of community housing providers (CHPs).

The SDA program, an individualised funding model, aims to offer National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants housing choice, guided by National Disability Insurance Agency’s (NDIA) funding criteria.

The AHURI study, led by researchers from Curtin University and the University of New South Wales, highlighted the financial risks that deter providers from delivering specialised accommodation.

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Program inefficiencies impacting outcomes

Despite NDIA allocating $700 million annually to the SDA program, actual disbursements were only $214m in 2022, falling short of the expected leverage in private market investment.

“Our research identified a lack of transparency and consistency in SDA funding decisions, and this has the potential to undermine both participant outcomes and the confidence of providers to deliver specialist disability accommodation,” report co-author Adam Crowe (pictured above) of Curtin University said in a media release.

Challenges for CHPs

The research underlined the complex challenges faced by CHPs in delivering housing for NDIS participants.

While CHPs possess extensive knowledge and are ideally positioned to deliver quality housing, the financial risk and delayed SDA payments present substantial financial challenges.

“Shouldering the financial risk… has substantial financial implications for the community housing sector in terms of managing debt finance, SDA portfolio growth, attracting new entrants and retaining current providers,” Crowe said.

Need for enhanced role of CHPs

The AHURI study advocated a more significant role for CHPs in the SDA program, highlighting the need for government support in harnessing their expertise in education, support, and specialist tenancy management.

It suggested that greater choice and control for participants can be facilitated by better integrating CHPs into the SDA program, thus enabling them to meet their home and living goals more effectively.

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