New Unison report reveals pros and cons of private rental program

New Unison report reveals pros and cons of private rental program

A new report from the Unison Housing Research Lab at RMIT shows that while Victoria’s Private Rental Access Program is helping low-income families access homes, those with complex needs remain at risk.

Victoria’s Private Rental Access Program (PRAP) supports low-income households to secure and maintain private rental housing through brokerage, advocacy and outreach support.

In a new report released today, the Unison Housing Research Lab has found that three quarters of households supported in 2017 were assisted to establish new tenancies and that after two years nearly 80% had sustained their housing.

Director of the Unison Housing Research Lab and professor of urban housing and homelessness at RMIT, Guy Johnson, said a decline in social housing stock had put pressure on the private rental market to accommodate low-income households.

“Demand for social housing in Australia is at an all-time high while at the same time the

proportion of people in social housing has never been lower,” he said.

“We’ve seen the focus of housing policy shift to the private rental market where a range of subsidies and programs have been developed to assist low-income and disadvantaged households, but little is known about their efficacy in the short or longer term.”

1134045110 The report showed single parent families with mothers were the largest group assisted by the PRAP.

The evaluation found that low-income families benefitted greatly from the PRAP, with single parent families accounting for the largest household group at 43%, and 90% of those families headed by women.

It was a different story for single-person households however, with the evaluation finding existing evaluation methods made it extremely difficult to support single households on Centrelink payments due to the near-total lack of affordable rental properties.

Johnson said the PRAP was also under increasing pressure to assist households with more complex needs, which now include complications brought on by COVID-19.

“Households at the edge of the housing market are extremely vulnerable, and ensuring they sustain their housing and overcome acute, periodic housing problems are important policy goals,” he said.

Overall, the evaluation found that the PRAP succeeds in assisting households to maintain longer-term stable housing through interventions during periods of acute housing crisis.

To ensure its ongoing success, four recommendations were made in the report, including the development of a practice model for future operations, removing the Centrepay administrative fee, maintaining a focus on family households that benefit most from the program, and employing specialist workers.

The report, Staying Home? Examining longer-term housing outcomes of the Private Rental Access Program (PRAP) was authored by RMIT’s Juliet Watson, Guy Johnson and Sarah Taylor and launched by the Unison Housing Research Lab today.

Read the Executive Summary or download the report for more detail and analysis, as well as recommendations.


Story: Grace Taylor


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