If you are having trouble paying for your rent, have a low income or have special circumstances there is a great possibility that you may qualify for government controlled rent assistance or even governmental housing. Although there are also other options that include community housing and public housing. Find out if you qualify for any of the many rental assistance schemes in Australia.
Department of Housing
The Department of Housing and the Department of Human Services coordinate their services in respect to rental and housing assistance. There are different options to receiving housing assistance, of which a Centrelink Rent Assistance is only one option. Certain State governments also offer housing support. All your options are listed below.
Federal Housing Rent Assistance
Rent Assistance from the DHS and DH is an income supplement that is non-taxable and is meant for individuals that are already Allowees, pensioners or those receiving the Family Tax Benefit Part A. Generally when you apply for these other income supplements, you will be automatically assessed for your qualification to the Rent Assistance program as well. You can initiate a claim online through Centrelink, the central social services portal for the Government of Australia.
These individuals can use the supplement to pay for rent in the private or community housing sectors but cannot use it towards government housing. Besides the following eligibility criteria you must also meet the requirements of your specific benefit payment programs as an Allowee, pensioner or Family Tax Benefit Part A recipient.
- pay rent to a government housing authority,
- own your own home,
- have a partner that receives Rent Assistance with a pensioner, Allowee or Family Tax Benefit,
- are under 25 living with your parents with no children and is single,
- live in a Commonwealth funded residential care service with its subsidy,
You would not qualify for Rent Assistance from the federal program.
If you do qualify for Rent Assistance there are different payment rates depending on your dependent and marital status. If you are a single person with no children or dependents the maximum rent assistance payments would be $128.40 fortnightly. However if your rent fortnightly is less than $114 you would not qualify for Rent Assistance. The Rent Assistance system is based on what the actual rent you are paying to calculate minimum and maximum rent assistance payments.
For a couple with 3 or more children the maximum rent assistance payment you could receive is $170.10 fortnightly. You can find all the rent assistance payment amounts here.
Public Housing Case Study, Western Australia
The DH for Western Australia provides rental accommodation at government housing complexes throughout Western Australia to eligible households. The Public Housing Authority provides housing at 25% of your gross assessable income annually, allowing you a secure way to get affordable housing. There is a wait list, so if you are in a financial bind, get on the waiting list as soon as possible.
To be eligible you need to be an Australian citizen over 16 years of age, live in Western Australia, not own property or land, have an income under the current income limits and not have savings above a certain amount. Under this program there is several different programs. There is Public Housing as described above, but there is also Remote Aboriginal Housing, Service Worker Accomodations, and Government Employee housing options.
Not run by federal or state governments, Community Housing is generally run by non-profit organizations or by your municipality. Community Housing programs run by these different organizations cover a wide array of needs by the community in which they are located. From transitional housing, crisis and emergency temporary housing or long-term housing they can provide shelter in many different situations.
The Federal Department of Social Services provides links to many options for community housing here. Yet for community housing you will want to get on the Waiting List for Social Housing. This is a nation-wide list that is managed by each State or Territory’s Housing authority.
The following links are for each State or Territory government Housing Authority:
- New South Wales Family and Community Services
- Northern Territory Department of Housing
- Queensland Homes and Housing
- South Australia Housing Authority
- Victoria Department of Housing
- Western Australia Housing is described and linked above (case study).
Each State or Territory has their own community housing authority and application process. This third party national non-profit organization, Community Housing Federation of Australia provides a great resource for those looking for rent assistance, community housing and public housing options throughout Australia, find it here.
There are different types of rent assistance, homelessness prevention, social housing and public housing programs in Australia. As outlined above, Rent Assistance is a federal payment benefit program that helps low and moderate income individuals and families. It is meant to aid in housing costs, whereas other programs such as government housing, short term crisis housing and other options provide full housing support during certain situations.