23 December 2022
Securing a rental in Sydney’s west is a Christmas miracle for housemates living with disability
Friends and housemates Thaison, Brett and David are happy to have finally secured a rental home in St Clair and will be celebrating Christmas together.
Just six weeks ago, Jason, Brett, Scott, Thaison, and David, were facing a dire Christmas.
The friends, ranging in ages from early thirties to fifties, have lived together in supported living group homes since they were teens.
In August, the housemates' Supported Independent Living (SIL) provider received notice that the home the group had been living in for the past 10 years was on the market for sale.
They were given just 90 days to vacate, with their landlord declining an extension to their lease, and with no option of negotiating a new lease with a prospective buyer.
Rather than preparing for the traditional holiday season festivities, the housemates were coming to terms with the prospect of being split up.
According to Rachael Parker, Supported Housing Coordinator at Hume Community Housing, the news came as a harsh blow in the lead up to end of year.
“Hume has a number of SIL organisations we partner with to provide Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) for customers under their NDIS plans. Normally, we would be given time to plan a home search for an individual customer to make sure it will meet their needs. Here we were, faced with housing five men in one of the tightest rental markets on record.”
While the property search swung into action, the housemates’ SIL provider was hastily working on contingency plans including emergency respite. Having provided daily support to the group of housemates for over 20 years, the prospect of separating them was a last resort. Respite is a short-term option and would mean other families who had booked respite care over the holiday season would miss out. There is a shortage of suitable respite in the area and no guarantee all housemates would be suitably accommodated.
The team from Hume worked around the clock hunting for a suitable rental property in the Penrith LGA hoping the friends could stay in a familiar area and continue to access local services.
According to Parker, “finding a five-bedroom, two-bathroom home that was accessible and affordable was like searching for a needle in a haystack.” In Sydney, the lowest vacancy rates are in the middle and outer areas like Penrith which have all seen a steep rise in demand as renters move outwards looking for more affordable housing. The current rental vacancy rate for rental accommodation in Penrith sits at 0.5 per cent.
“There were only eight homes matching our requirements and we applied for all, receiving two rejections, and the other applications received no response at all. Hume manages close to 150 group homes; we take over the lease of a property and guarantee rent and manage all maintenance and property upkeep. We really are a safe pair of hands for property owners – unfortunately in such a competitive market those who are most vulnerable are easily overlooked.”
Just three days out from their lease end, Hume successfully secured a property in St Clair.
“It felt like a miracle. We were just so relieved,” says Parker. The friends are happily settling into their new home and are delighted to be invited to a Christmas Street Party with their new neighbours.
Hume secured a two-year lease enabling the housemates to rest easy knowing they have a secure home for the time being. “We still have is a fair bit of work to do to improve liveability of the home, but we are so thankful the guys will remain together,” says Parker with a smile.
For more information, Please contact Linda at at [email protected] or 0417 995 981.