A highly anticipated ground-breaking event in Albury marked an important step forward in meeting the specific needs of people living with disability in the region.
Registered Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) provider Good Housing and Disability Support Provider Northcott, along with Justin Clancy, MP for Albury broke ground on its development in Lavington this month. Inspired by the tranquil waters of the Murray River and its beautiful surrounding red gums, this vibrant new site is Good Housing’s first project outside of Greater Sydney and a fresh addition to Northcott’s existing disability housing options in Albury.
The unique purpose-built property is a different take on the traditional and outdated ‘group housing’ model. Showcasing independent villas, ergonomic design and stylish interiors, River Gum has been designed to accommodate residents with extreme physical and/or intellectual disability with very high support needs, while also fostering independence and security.
The project will comprise three one-bedroom independent villas designed for High Physical Support, Robust and Improved Liveability tenants, an adjoining two-resident overnight assistant rooms. The property is due for completion by mid-2023.
River Gum represents a major investment in Albury and will set a benchmark in regional NSW for better disability housing options. This development is also a major expansion of job opportunities in disability support, adding to Northcott’s existing housing team of 160 staff in the Albury area.
Antony Anisse, Good Housing’s General Manager and co-founder, said the demand for dedicated disability housing in the region is at critical levels. Around 120 people in Albury alone are currently living in SDA, however, half of those residents are in old-fashioned group homes that do not always meet their specific needs.
“Good Housing creates smart and healthy homes to support the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of our tenants. We’re passionately committed to the ongoing pursuit of quality and our unique purposefully built homes foster independence, inclusivity, and peace of mind for all,” he said.
Mr Anisse said Good Housing has been collaborating with Northcott to identify the ideal tenants for River Gum and determine their requirements in a new home.
“We then incorporated that feedback into the design. It’s been a very tenant-centric project from the beginning. We’re also heavily invested in ensuring the compatibility of tenants with their neighbours or roommates at the property. That’s achieved by working together with their allied health team to properly understand their characteristics and mannerisms.
"Two of the one-bedroom villas will be for robust tenants, so have been designed with reinforced Gyprock walls and toughened glass, plus sensory soundproofing. Together with our interior designers, we ensure the villas are purpose built but have a great aesthetic component. This includes the furnishings which have been specifically curated to meet our tenants’ unique needs,” said Mr Anisse.
Andrew Kew, Northcott’s Chief Operating Officer, said the new partnership with Good Housing was already proving to be a beneficial one, ensuring people with disability can live with dignity in their dream home that has been built to suit their requirements.
“People with disabilities need good quality, purpose-built housing that is not isolated from other people. The Good Housing designs will properly support their needs and the location in Lavington means that the residents can mix freely with their neighbours, use local services and build long-term community relationships,” said Mr Kew.
Member for Albury Justin Clancy welcomed the ground-breaking for Northcott and Good Housing’s development in Lavington.
“There has been increasing pressure on our housing in Albury and across the region and it is vital that those living with disability can find a suitable home here in their community.”
“Northcott and Good Housing will deliver quality purpose-built housing with a number of different options as part of a fully inclusive community that supports everyone to live their best life,” said Mr Clancy.
By joining forces with Northcott, Good Housing is able to consider NDIS SDA demand data and determine where the gaps are in the disability housing market. It is this team effort that helped them discover there was a need in Albury and will aid future decision-making for further sites.
Good Housing and Northcott’s next development is ‘Banksia’ at Bradbury in South West Sydney, with construction beginning in May 2022 and will feature a suite of three 1-bedroom High Physical Support (HPS) villas and an adjoining 2-resident HPS and/or Improved Liveability (IL) villa.
Good Housing properties are available to adults aged 18 to 64 years living with a disability.
Good Housing was born out of a personal family story as Mr Anisse and his Uncle Sam Graiche, fellow co-founder and Chief Innovator, identified a lack of tailored disability housing solutions for family members living with special needs. “We saw firsthand the challenges my sisters and their families faced while caring for their children. The intense requirements of supporting a child living with severe disabilities can put a lot of pressure on a household, we strongly believed that better living environments should be provided to improve that child’s quality of life,” he said.
Good Housing opened its first specialised disability housing project Oak Tree at Mt Colah in October 2020, followed by Apple Tree in the same suburb. Another 14 projects are planned for this year in NSW and Victoria. These generally include projects in Hornsby, Macquarie Fields, Toongabbie, Tahmoor, Bradbury and Jannali in NSW and Packenham, Doveton and St Albans in Victoria.
Good Housing is now looking to build around 300 homes across Australia over the next five years, offering families relief by providing NDIS registered SDA that radically improves the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of residents. “Our lived experience means we understand the challenges associated with finding the right home. We work holistically to ensure each of our properties meet the needs of all our tenants and adheres to NDIS SDA design standards,” Mr Graiche added.
Properties will include a mix of robust and high physical support interiors ideally suited for individuals living with diverse disabilities. The homes at River Gum will have assistive technology, wide doorways, adjustable benches, and enhanced physical access provisions. Each villa will aim to meet the nine foundations of a healthy building, including air quality, thermal health, moisture, dust & pests, safety & security, water quality, noise, lighting & views plus ventilation.
Tenants will pay a reasonable rent contribution, coupled with their NDIS administered SDA subsidy. The SDA funding in tenants’ NDIS plan will be paid to Good Housing. In addition, tenants will pay the ‘Reasonable Rent Contribution’, which is 25% of their Disability Support Pension (or equivalent), and 100% Commonwealth Rent Assistance.
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