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Social housing

What is social housing?

Social housing is secure, affordable housing for people on low to moderate incomes who have a housing need. It includes public housing properties owned or managed by Housing NSW and the Aboriginal Housing Office, and community housing properties managed by not-for-profit, non-government registered community housing organisations.

How do I apply for social housing?

You can apply for all types of social housing using an Application for Housing Assistance form. You can also use this form to apply for housing assistance if you are already a tenant of a social housing provider (such as Housing NSW or a participating community housing provider).

You can lodge your application with any social housing provider in NSW, either in person or by mail. This includes all Housing NSW local offices and participating community housing providers. You can find details of where you can lodge your application on the Housing Pathways website:

An initial assessment of your application will be made by the social housing provider you lodge your application form with. If you appear to be eligible for social housing, you will be asked to fill in a Social Housing Supplement. If we need more information, you may also be asked to come to an interview.

What evidence do I need to attach?

You will need to provide documents that support your application. The questions that we need evidence for are marked on the form with Paper clip

Information about the type of evidence we need is in the Evidence Requirements Information Sheet. This is available from your local housing office or from the Housing Pathways website:

Can I choose what type of social housing I want?

Yes. Whenever you apply for social housing, you can choose to receive offers of social housing properties from any social housing provider or from Housing NSW only or from community housing providers participating in Housing Pathways. You will be asked to make this choice when you fill in the Social Housing Supplement. Some locations, however, may only have one social housing provider that is able to assist you in the time frame you need.

If you want to live in these locations, you may not be able to choose the type of social housing you want.

If you are Aboriginal, or someone in your household is Aboriginal, you can also choose to be listed for Aboriginal housing as well as for other forms of social housing. To be listed, however, your Aboriginality will need to be confirmed.

You can change your choice of provider at any time before you receive an offer of housing.

Can I choose where I want to live?

When you apply for social housing you can choose an allocation zone. Areas where social housing is available are grouped into allocation zones. We will check which allocation zone your selection is in, and if you are eligible for housing, list you for offers of housing in this allocation zone.

We try to house people where they would prefer to live but we can’t guarantee specific locations. The location of the property we offer you when it’s your turn to be housed will depend on where the next vacancy that matches the type of housing you need occurs within the allocation zone you are listed in. This means that we might offer you housing in ANY of the suburbs that are grouped into the allocation zone you are approved for.

You also need to be aware that the waiting times are much longer in some areas than in others. Some allocation zones are called ‘high-demand’ zones because the demand for housing in these zones is greater than the number of properties that become available.

If you select a high-demand zone, you may be asked to select another zone or else be prepared to wait a very long time for an offer of housing.

Are the eligibility criteria the same for all types of social housing?

Yes, the general eligibility criteria are the same for all types of social housing. However, different social housing providers may have different policies about some things, for example, payment of bond, length of lease available and whether you can keep pets. Also, some community housing providers may provide specialist help to their tenants and/or to their local community. For more information about this, talk to your local social housing provider.

How do I know if I am eligible for social housing?

To be eligible for social housing, you must:

  • Be an Australian citizen or a permanent resident
  • Live in New South Wales (NSW)
  • Have a household income within the income-eligibility limits
  • Not own any assets or property that you could live in
  • Be able to sustain a successful tenancy, with or without support
  • In general be at least 18 years of age

You will also need to be able to prove your identity and, if you have any debts with a social housing provider from a previous tenancy, you must be making regular repayments.

What are the income limits for social housing?

To be eligible for social housing, your household income must be within the social housing income-eligibility limits that are found in the Housing Pathways website:

What happens if I am eligible for social housing?

If you are assessed as eligible for social housing, the provider will place you on the NSW Housing Register. The social housing providers you have chosen (i.e. Housing NSW and/or community housing organisations) will then use this register to offer you housing when a suitable property is available.

Can I get priority housing assistance?

You cannot apply for priority housing assistance directly. If, however, when you apply for housing assistance your application shows that you have an urgent and ongoing housing need that you are unable to resolve for yourself in the private rental market, you may be assessed for priority assistance. If we are assessing you for priority assistance and you have asked to live in an area that is a ‘high- demand’ zone, you will also need to be assessed for locational need. This means you will have to show that it is essential to the needs of your household for you to live in the zone you have chosen. If you cannot show that living in this zone is essential for your household, we will ask you to choose another area before we continue our assessment.

If you are assessed as eligible for priority assistance, you will be listed on the NSW Housing Register on a priority basis.

Once I am listed on the NSW Housing Register, when will I get housed?

The waiting times for both priority assistance and wait-turn housing will vary depending on the number of other people waiting, the amount of social housing in the area you have chosen, and your specific housing needs.

Clients approved for priority assistance will be housed ahead of most other applicants on the social housing register. Clients approved for wait-turn housing will be offered housing in their chosen location when:

  • a suitable property becomes available
  • other applicants who applied before them have been offered housing

What if I have an urgent housing need and require emergency accommodation?

If you require emergency accommodation, you may be eligible for Emergency Temporary Accommodation. Please call the Homeless Persons line on 1800 234 566 (for after hours ring 1800 152 152).

Emergency Temporary Accommodation (for up to three months) is available to people who are Australian citizens or permanent residents with an urgent housing need because of:

  • a natural disaster such as fire, flood, earthquake or storm
  • domestic violence that places a family member at risk of harm; or
  • homelessness with custody of children

For more information