Housing Options and Referral Pathways

It is useful to stay informed about the range of housing options available to better advocate to be able to provide guidance and support to people experiencing housing issues so that they can make more informed choices about their housing.

Below are a range of social and private housing options available. Community services tend to favor exploring social housing options as it is subsidized and therefore more affordable. An example of social housing is public housing. Private housing such as private rental can be more expensive, but there are no waiting lists. Both types of housing have pros and cons. It is important to discuss different housing options with clients in order to facilitate greater insight and understanding about what type of housing referrals they are being supported with and why.

Social Housing

Social housing is housing owned and managed by not-for-profit organizations or government.


  • Rent is often subsidized making it more affordable than private housing and also more sustainable (e.g. Rent can be subsidized based on income, market-rent, or flat rent model)
  • As social housing is not profit-driven, and is linked to community organizations aimed at supporting people, tenants are likely to be supported to sustain their housing. For example, if someone is a tenant in public housing, they will still be evicted if they do not pay their rent, however there are supports in place such as SHASP and other programs aimed at keeping tenants in housing.
  • As social housing properties are owned by government, there are specific standards which social housing properties must comply and it is sometimes easier to advocate for repairs etc compared to living in private housing.


  • A lot of people apply for social housing (public housing in particular) and consequently they tend to have very long waiting lists
  • Even if a person is homeless, and is on the highest priority, they can still wait several years before they are allocated a house
  • People don’t have much of a choice when it comes to location. Social housing is not available everywhere! A person may not get the location they want simply because they do not have houses there. Public housing is the most widespread social housing. Community housing organizations for example, may only have a few houses in a specific region in Victoria.
  • You will be allocated a house based on availability, suitability and priority. A person doesn’t have a great deal of choice about what house they are offered. They can refuse if they don’t like it, but they will be placed back on the waiting list.

Private Housing

Private housing is housing that is owned by a group/individual or company.


  • Private housing is more readily available. There are no waiting lists for private rental
  • You have more choice. You can choose where you live, and there are more private rental options compared to social housing
  • It is mainstream. There is a certain stigma with social housing which is not the same for private rental
  • If a person can access private rental, why shouldn’t they?
  • It is a move away from social housing which is in high demand given our aging population


  • It is highly competitive and landlords/property managers are looking have different set of priorities compared to social housing providers
  • They tend to favour tenants that are organized, punctual with payments, and don’t require a lot of additional support
  • Limited social housing stock- it is necessary to consider private rental as a housing option