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Summer Housing CEO Dan McLennan talks specialist disability accommodation

The roll out of Specialist Disability Accommodation or SDA as part of the NDIS is hugely exciting, creating a host of new housing options for people with disabilities.  With this comes increased independence, better community connections and a quality of life that many of us take for granted.

That said, SDA is not straightforward.  Our CEO Dan McLennan explains SDA below and gives his advice for participants considering applying for funding.

Q. What is Specialist Disability Accommodation and who is it for?

A. Specialist Disability Accommodation, or SDA, is a funded support for NDIS participants who meet the criteria for extreme functional impairment, or very high support needs. It is envisaged that 6% of NDIS participants or 28,000 people will be eligible for SDA funding. SDA Eligiblity Criteria

Q. How does SDA funding work?

A. Participants who have SDA in their NDIS plan can lease a dwelling from a registered SDA Provider, like Summer Housing. Rental payable by the participant is capped at a reasonable amount being 25% of the Disability Support Pension plus 100% of any Commonwealth Rental Assistance received by the participant.

Generally, this will be significantly less than market rental for the SDA dwelling.

The balance of the funding for the dwelling is provided via the NDIS.  In particular, the NDIS will provide the participant with a  budget for their SDA amount. NDIS makes payments directly to the SDA Provider to cover the cost of the build and ongoing costs associated with maintaining the property.   The amount of SDA funding depends on the type of property (house, apartment, townhouse, etc.) the design features incorporated in the dwelling, its location and whether the property is shared or leased to a single resident.

When a participant moves into housing that has been enrolled as SDA, the SDA Provider can then claim against that participant’s NDIS SDA funding.

Information provided by Summer Foundation A-Z of SDA Presentation

Q. Any advice when it comes to applying for SDA?

A. Don’t give up! Seriously, the process to secure SDA funding takes time – both to compile information to demonstrate that you meet the eligibility criteria and to navigate the NDIS process.  It requires persistence but is absolutely worth the effort if you’re successful. We know the right housing can change your life and we know it’s worth giving it your all.

Here are four tips for finding the right Specialist Disability Accommodation:

1. Get the right support coordinator! One who will offer you support and stay with you through the process.

2. Work out how you really want to live. Look online and explore the possibilities now made possible through SDA. Summer Housing believes in separating housing and supports for example, which means we provide housing only and you nominate your own support provider – this gives you choice and control over your own supports. Importantly, it means you can change your supports if you want without it affecting your housing.

3. Take a look at sites like thehousinghub and gonest to see available SDA housing.

4. Provide clear evidence to support what you need and want in housing and make sure it aligns with your NDIS goals. This will typically include a comprehensive Occupational Therapist’s report explaining how and why the particular design features of the SDA property specifically responds to your needs (i.e. provision for ceiling hoists, assistive technology and/or back-up power).  A clear participant statement as to how the SDA reflects your choice and independence, particularly in respect of location and living arrangements is also recommended.

Q. Why is SDA important?

A. We need to provide more housing options for people with extreme functional impairment or very high support needs; especially for younger people. That much is certain.

There are around 6,000 younger people in aged care right now, but we can’t do anything about that if there’s nowhere else for them to go. We’re doing everything we can to expand the housing options for younger people and others in need of SDA.

I also know of people with disability who have never had the opportunity to leave their parents’ home or are living in completely unsuitable accommodation. We’re here to help change that by creating quality accessible housing – and, with the help of our financiers, ensure there are enough of it to help meet the growing demand.

Q. How is Summer Housing tracking?

A. Summer Housing is on track to deliver 300 SDA apartments across Australia by 2022. So far, we’ve delivered apartments in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory.

Our first apartments in Western Australia will be ready mid-2020, and 2021 in South Australia. And don’t worry Tasmania and Northern Territory – you’re on our radar.

Q. How do participants apply for SDA?

A. Here is a useful overview of the steps you would take to get SDA added to your plan: NDIS Housing Pathways.

For support coordinators, take a look at Summer Foundation’s How to write a Housing Plan – Guide and also their Housing Plan Template – both great resources that help you to write housing plans for NDIS participants who want to test their eligibility for SDA.

If you’d like to talk to someone about your potential eligibility for SDA, contact Summer Housing’s tenancy matching team at

And above all, be persistent!

Dan McLennan

CEO, Summer Housing