Settlement Guide

Settlement Guide: How do I access public housing?

Home prices across Australia's five major capital cities rose 0.4 last week. (AAP)

For those who are new to Australia, resources like public housing can be essential to get by, yet tricky to access information on. Here are five things to consider to get you started.

In Australia public housing is provided by the government to assist people on low incomes, people who can't afford to own a home or may have problems renting in the private sector. Priority is given to those most in need.

Am I eligible?

Australian citizenship
Australian citizenship

You will need to check your state’s housing authority’s site for the exact criteria. For example, eligibility criteria for public housing in NSW includes that a person must be a citizen or have permanent residency in Australia; live in NSW; have a household income within the Department's income eligibility limits and generally be 18 years or over.

More information here

Humanitarian entrants must meet the same requirements as other Australians to be eligible for public housing. They are not given preferential treatment and must remain on waiting lists, as do other Australians in need of public housing. 

More information here. 

Where can I live?


You can choose a number of preferred areas but not specific suburbs. However, you can always change your preferred area while your application is on the register. You can also ask for a specific type of housing if you have medical requirements like wheelchair access. You may need to fill out a separate form application for special accommodation requirements (pdf here).

How long will I have to wait?

Why is 2016 going to be one second longer?
Public Domain/Pixabay

Depending on the state, the wait can range from a few months to a few years. It also depends on your circumstances. It may be affected by the location you have chosen, the number of homes in demand, the number of applicants registered or if you have special modification requirements. For example there are limited demand properties available  in Victoria now. However, these properties are usually in remote or rural areas.

How much rent will I pay?

Australian dollars in Sydney, Friday, Jan. 15, 2016. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING

You still need to pay rent, but it's adjusted so it's never more than 25 per cent of your income, including wages and payments from Centrelink. For more information, see Social housing income and assets limits.

How do I apply?

You can apply through your state housing authority who works out your eligibility.  In Victoria you can go to Apply for social housing for more information and access to the online and paper application forms.

Visit these sites for more information about your state housing authority:

Western Australia
Northern Territory