Thursday, March 29, 2018

FACS: Alternative waiting list figure

On 20 March 2018 NSW Family and Community Services (FACS) Housing placed on their website updated information about waiting lists, which is now current to 30 June 2017.

They call it the 'Social Housing Expected Waiting Times dashboard' and the link is here.

The dashboard does not show historical figures, but the Productivity Commission's Report on Government Services shows the waiting list at 30 June 2017 across New South Wales has dropped significantly.

Source: Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision, 'Report on government services 2018', Productivity Commission, 23/1/18, Table 18A.5. Figures for 2012 to 2012 from previous reports. (You can view Table 18A.5 here.) This data excludes people who have applied for community housing only. Most applicants in NSW may be offered either community housing or public housing.
This news is too good to be true. As mentioned in our blog here, figures for 30 June 2017 exclude 'suspended applicants'. Suspended applicants won't be offered properties during suspension, but unlike closed applications, if their suspension ends their waiting time will be counted from the original registration of their application.

One way of thinking of the difference is that suspended applicants are assumed to want and be eligible for social housing, but there is currently a reason not to offer them a property. Closed applicants are assumed not to want or be eligible for public housing. For more detail see the 'Managing the NSW Housing Register Policy' page.

FACS Housing's dashboard has separated out 'General' and 'Priority' applications and also has made a notation that their figure for 30 June 2017 excludes 'suspended' applications and, accordingly, 'this data is not strictly comparable to published data in previous years'. Check here.

FACS Housing kindly has supplied the number of suspended applications at 30 June 2017. These stand at 5,499.

So, the total number of applicants on the waiting list at 30 June 2017 arising out of the additional information supplied by FACS Housing = 'General' + 'Priority' + 'Suspended' = 51,453 + 4,496 + 5,499 = 61,448.

The alternative waiting list figure at 30 June 2017 is 61,448.

We now are able to compare waiting list figures from previous years.
Sources: For Productivity Commission data, see foot of previous histogram. For FACS Housing data for 30 June 2017, check here and for 30 June 2016, check here. For figures for 30 June 2012 to 30 June 2015, check similar links to the last one. The 2017 figures shown above for both agencies include the 5,499 suspended applications. We have added these because suspended applications were included in previous years.

There has been a steady increase in waiting list numbers over the last five years. Indeed, FACS Housing's waiting list figures show an increase of just over 10 per cent in this period. This does not bode well for the future. Check out Nigel Gladstone’s recent article in The Sydney Morning Herald here on why more people are joining a decade-long wait for public housing in a queue that stretches past 55,000 people ... we say past 60,000 people.


It is unclear why the waiting list figures published in Table 18A.5 of the Productivity Commission's Report on Government Services (51,571) and those now published by FACS Housing (55,949) vary. Both exclude the number of suspended applications and both come from the same original source. Indeed, this has been the story for the last few years, although not so pronounced.

Further notations in Note (d) of Table 18A.5 here may tell some of the story:
- waitlist data should be used with caution as over counting may stem from the use of a single integrated social housing waiting list (since 2010) for public housing and SOMIH (which includes those who have also applied for community housing, but not applicants for community housing only).

- fewer waitlist applications were closed in 2015-16 because a review and redesign of the annual Housing Eligibility Review (HER) process delayed its completion until 2016-17. Data for 2016-17 may not be comparable to 2015-16 due to outstanding data remediation at that time.

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