IT REMAINS unclear how much unmet demand exists in Australia for disability housing even as the NDIS drives new plans to build in Bendigo.
Whatever it is, it will likely be "massive", the CEO of Haven; Home, Safe Ken Marchingo says.
"Like many people, we just don't know what that latent demand is, but I think the challenge for the state housing authority and community housing agencies is to be prepared and able to respond to individual needs and circumstances," he said.
The demand is being driven by historic shortages and new funding supplied through the six-year-old National Disability Insurance Scheme.
But only six per cent of people with disabilities qualify for the NDIS's "specialist disability accommodation" funds and they have very high support needs.
"What I can tell you is that for people with very obvious disabilities and who are homeless, it is very difficult to find a private sector response," Mr Marchingo said.
Another factor driving demand is ageing parents anxious about their children's futures, Bendigo's Quality Living Options president Noela Foreman said.
"It's become obvious to people that there is a need - and quite an urgent need in some cases," she said.
Parents are often unable to "jump through the hoops" needed to qualify for specialist disability accommodation funds, Dr Foreman said.
Helen Wemyss is a 75-year-old sole carer of daughter Susan and "is just one of many in the region" going through the "long, drawn out process" of applying for specialist disability accommodation funding.
"I have to prove to the NDIS that Susan needs that 24-hour support and care," she said.
"It (NDIS funded help) will never the the same as the support I am giving her at home but it should be as close to that as it can, because that is what Susie is going to need."
Without SDA funding, the pair may need to move down to the coast to be closer to Ms Wemyss' elder daughter and, potentially, look for a hostel room.
"I do not want her (Susie's older sister) to take on the care. That's not fair," she said.
Parents often do not have the finances to purchase or upgrade homes in their later years, particularly if one has taken decades off work to be a full-time carer, Dr Foreman said.
"It's hard to get a bank loan when you are over 65-years-of-age. In some ways, if we were younger we could buy a house that we own and get some help there," she said.
It is also hard to find the $300,000 often required to buy rooms in many disability shared houses, Ms Wemyss said.
More news: 'Distressing' disability violence rates
Developers are building more properties in Bendigo. A house built by Metricon and designed by Secure Housing Australia recently opened for public inspections in White Hills.
It has been marketed in part as a solution for those who are unable to get specialist disability accommodation funding, Secure Housing's website stated.
"We're saying 'this is a way that parents can help'. We are coming at this from the basis that if you own part of this, that it's yours, then your child can't be thrown out," the company's director Tim McDermott said.
There are currently 13,000 Australians who already have specialist disability accommodation funding, according to National Disability Insurance Administration figures.
That number is expected to more than double by the time the NDIS is fully operational, with $700 million spent every year.
About five per cent of people in the Loddon region now have specialist disability accommodation funding - or 212 people, an NDIA spokesperson said.
Haven is among groups hoping to provide more accommodation for the six per cent of people who qualify for accommodation funding, including units recently built in North Bendigo.
The organisation recently merged with disability housing manager Active Community Housing and has built its own showroom in Preston displaying the cutting edge technology it would like to roll out to clients with disabilities - regardless of whether they qualify for specialist disability accommodationfunding.
The showroom includes movable cabinetry and sink tops. "Everything that opens and closes" is controlled by an electrical device using voice or facial recognition control, Mr Marchingo said.
"This kind of technology - in individual pieces - is not that innovative or unusual. But to see it operating from one platform is very rare."
Story continues below video
Several private developments are being proposed in Bendigo for people who can lock in supportive disability accommodation funding.
One in Kangaroo Flat is by Carra Properties and disability support service CareChoice. The other is planned for Eaglehawk by Freedom Housing.
Carra Property's Tom Carra is preparing for a public information session on proposed Kangaroo Flat properties for people who will likely qualify for specialist disability accommodation funding.
"The thing about SDAs is that its the same as building any other house, but you have to give extra consideration to the design side of things and, then, there's extra time in tendering it out and sourcing the right builder," Mr Carra said.
Flexibility and consultation with clients about their needs is vital, he said. So is ongoing support.
"We've got an incentive to make sure the support provider is doing the right thing by participants. If they don't, we lose a tenant and their revenue," Mr Carra said.
"So we are very careful about who we collaborate with ... and that clients have an avenue to come through is if they want something resolved."
Susie and Helen Wemyss are watching new proposals in Bendigo closely. They hope something can become available if and when they lock in funding - and that it will suit Susie's needs. She wants compatible house mates and a place close enough to other NDIS-funded programs and activities.
"Even though we (people in Bendigo) are getting extra houses, I would imagine they would fill pretty quickly. The need here is great - and getting greater," Helen Wemyss said.
For more on Kangaroo Flat plans visit carechoice.net.au/events. For more on those in Eaglehawk, visit freedomhousing.com.au
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.