As we celebrate International Day of People with a Disability, it is important to highlight how fundamental appropriate housing is for people with a disability to enable them to live independently, get the most out of life and contribute to their community.
James loves the views from his Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) apartment in Lake Macquarie where he’s been living with his daughter for almost two years.
He says the location and set up of his two-bedroom apartment suits him well. It allows him to run his disability consultancy business and enjoy his hobbies of being at the beach, taking coastal walks or catching a movie. He is close to other family too.
“It is a great part of the world. I have three supermarkets within 200 metres of me and am close to medical and other services,” James says.
“Longer term, I am still looking for a home that allows me to live with more of my family,” he says.
James spent 500 days in hospital after acquiring his disability. Despite being approved for SDA while in hospital, James struggled to find a suitable home. He initially had to rent in the private market which was not fit for purpose. He then found the Summer Housing apartment complex managed by Home in Place.
The former CEO of a community housing organisation and former executive with NSW Health and Hunter New England Health is combining his lived experience of disability, and his health and community housing experience, with his support coordination business specialising in SDA. He helps NDIS participants needing support to navigate the SDA space and advises SDA providers on how they can improve their services to people with a disability. Being a member of the NDIS SDA Advisory Group is another way James is advocating for a more consumer led disability housing market.
“I am operating at two ends of the stick – helping participants and helping providers and the NDIS to respond better participants’ needs. It is more fun than it is work.”
“I get involved in lots of different groups. I am advisor to a group that is helping get young people with a disability out of residential aged care and into places like SDA.”
James’ application for SDA was streamlined because he had a great occupational therapist and team behind him and his application. Having this support is one of his big tips for people navigating applying for SDA in their NDIS plan. Another tip is that what you are funded for isn’t specifically what you have to live in.
“You can use your SDA funds in different ways to get different outcomes, depending on who you want to live with.”
“When it comes to housing it is not just the line people are funded for but incorporating other things that are important to someone such as the location, closeness to family members, whether they have a pet, all of the things that go into the decision about where someone wants to live and how they want to live.”
“In every other part of the NDIS market there is choice and control but in housing you are still kind of stuck with what the market says, you have to accept it.
He says disability housing supply is increasing but he is working to help shift the power in the disability housing market to be a more consumer led.