Social Housing Initiative - Fact Sheet

The Social Housing Initiative (SHI) was a schedule to the National Partnership Agreement on the Nation Building and Jobs Plan. This National Partnership Agreement began in February 2009 and expired on 31 December 2012.

The main aims of the Social Housing Initiative was to stimulate the construction industry, increase the supply of social housing, provide long-term accommodation opportunities for homeless people (and people at risk of homelessness) and deliver benefits to the community Australia-wide.

It supported both the construction of new social housing ($5.2 billion) and the repair and upgrade of existing homes ($400 million) across all states and territories.

Around 19,700 new social housing dwellings were built. The average cost to the Australian Government per dwelling was $265,672 (as at 31 January 2013), which is significantly less than the expected cost at commencement of the initiative ($300,000 per dwelling).

The repairs and maintenance element enabled approximately 80,000 existing social housing dwellings to benefit from an upgrade. This included major renovations to over 12,000 social housing dwellings that were vacant or would have become uninhabitable without this work.

73 per cent of new dwellings constructed incorporated minimum Universal Design elements to make properties more accessible to people who are ageing or live with disability.  These features include grab rails, wider corridors and step-free showers.

In addition, 27 per cent achieved a higher level of adaptability, by complying with the Australian Standard for Adaptable Housing AS4399-2995, Class C. 

Examples of features under Class C include moveable walls in bathrooms that can create a larger space to provide appropriate access to a person in a wheelchair and kitchen benches that can be lowered with only minor modifications to meet special needs.

A review of the Social Housing Initiative by KPMG in 2012 found that in addition to exceeding its primary objectives, the scale of the Social Housing Initiative provided opportunities for flexibility in delivery models and more tailored approaches. This included new ways of interacting and working with the construction industry (through build and sell projects), continuation of growth strategies (such as co-contributions from Community Housing Providers) and the traditional build and transfer of dwellings to Community Housing Providers.

KPMG also noted that the Social Housing Initiative has had a positive impact on the economy, providing around 9,000 full time jobs in the construction industry and increasing overall GDP by 0.1 per cent (10 basis points). In addition, the Social Housing Initiative has benefited individual clients across all states and territories and assisted some of Australia’s most vulnerable people into permanent, good quality housing arrangements.

Funding provided to each State and Territory Government under the Social Housing Initiative and key outputs are summarised as follows:


Funding allocation
No. new dwellings constructed No. dwellings - repairs/
Tenant Outcomes1 (percentage of new dwellings tenanted)
Homeless or
at risk of homelessness
Indigenous Australians People with Disability Aged over 55 years Escaping Family violence
NSW 1,894.0 6,330 31,672 47 15 47 52 5
VIC 1,265.9 4,663 9,363 47 10 29 22 8
QLD 1,165.6 4,035 27,420 57 13 58 34 2
WA 590.2 2,083 10,489 81 10 24 48 5
SA 434.2 1,470 503 69 13 50 9 12
TAS 134.8 530 534 35 5 40 37 5
ACT 93.5 421 259 24 5 14 63 5
NT 59.7 208 297 60 68 23 28 22
TOTAL 5,638.0 19,740 80,537 53 13 42 38 6

1 Percentages are based on the number of new dwellings that had been tenanted as at 30 November 2012.

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