Research finds why some stay longer in social housing than others

Research finds why some stay longer in social housing than others

Social housing provides safe, secure, long-term accommodation for some of the most disadvantaged in the community. But some people are more likely to stay housed longer than others.

The report Sustaining Social Housing – Profiles and Patterns was produced by Unison Housing Research Lab, a collaborative partnership between RMIT and Unison Housing, one of Victoria’s largest social housing providers.

Researchers examined the records of over 1,900 social housing tenancies and discovered five key indicators that can impact upon how long tenants stay in social housing:

  • the type of property (rooming house or self-contained accommodation)
  • the age at which they start their tenancy 
  • their income type
  • the type of housing they were living in prior to beginning their tenancy
  • the location of the social housing property

Lead researcher Dr Sarah Taylor from RMIT said social housing was fundamental to resolving homelessness and addressing chronic housing instability, so providers need to know more about why some households stay housed for a long period of time while others leave early, often leaving them without secure housing. 

“Stable, good quality and affordable housing is associated with better outcomes for tenants and the community, such as education, health and employment. It’s in everyone’s best interests to reduce turnover in social housing,” she said.

“Some of these factors are within the control of social housing providers, while others are not, but it is important to understand these dynamics, with an overarching goal of lifting tenancy sustainment wherever possible.”

The report found that older people, recipients of the Disability Support Pension and households who were in private rental or a boarding house prior to moving into social housing are more likely to sustain their housing.

Tenants who had recently experienced homelessness or had been incarcerated are less likely to sustain a long- term social housing tenancy. 

Only 19% of people who were behind bars prior to moving into long-term housing, and 50 per cent of households who were homeless immediately prior, were still in their tenancy after 24 months – compared to 66% for tenants previously in private rental and 76% for former boarding house residents.

Unison Housing CEO James King said the report provided important lessons for social housing providers. 

“Understanding the factors that contribute to our renters maintaining their tenancy for longer is critical,” he said.

“The research presents community housing providers with data-driven findings that can guide future decision making and help develop strategies to assist our tenants with staying in their home for longer.” 

Download the full report: Sustaining Social Housing – Profiles and Patterns.


  • Research
  • Sustainability
  • Society
  • Social services

Related News

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.