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Rent Choice Start Safely

Responsible government

  • New South Wales

Fourth Action Plan actions

  • Improve support and service system responses
    • 20 Improve access to suitable and safe accommodation within their communities for women who have experienced domestic, family and sexual violence.

Rent Choice Start Safely is a private rental assistance product that provides a subsidy and links to supports, to help people rent privately across NSW who do not have a stable and secure place to live due to domestic or family violence. A proportion of the rent is paid for up to three years to enable survivors to re-establish stability for themselves and their family following domestic and family violence.

The program also provides emotional and practical support including brokerage to assist with household establishment items, education, or training and employment related costs to enable their transition to financial independence.

What have we achieved so far?

Rent Choice Start Safely has consistently increased the number of households assisted each year. Recent changes have also provided more flexibility and improved affordability for potential clients.

The achievements of the Rent Choice Start Safely Program include:

  • deeper subsidies for clients living in higher cost locations. This enables clients to rent a more expensive property (within defined limits) where there are no rental properties otherwise available; and
  • providing brokerage of up to $2,000 to support a client’s independence. These funds are available for approved household establishment items, education or training and employment related costs.

Private Rental Specialists can directly assess and recommend moderate income clients for Rent Choice Start Safely.

Rent Choice Start Safely includes a tapering component where a client has their rental subsidy tapered across three years in preparation for successful transitioning out of the program to support regaining independence.

In 2019-20, Rent Choice Start Safely assisted 4,792 households, including 8,431 children, across NSW with stable housing.

The budget for Rent Choice Start Safely for 2020-21 increased to $38.846 million (from $32.53 million plus an additional $1.21 million in COVID stimulus funding in 2019-20). The Start Safely budget in 2020-21 included an additional $4.86 million provided to assist clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Start Safely budget in 2021-22 was $35.56 million. It was enhanced with stimulus funding of $4.61 million ($3.61 million in July 2021 and $1 million in October 2021) to provide additional support for Start Safely clients. The changes included a freeze in rental subsidy tapering and exits from the program to help clients maintain their tenancies during the pandemic.

What is next?

Rent Choice Start Safely staff are located within DCJ Districts and Community Housing Providers. These positions partner with existing services who support and refer people escaping domestic and family violence to the program. Rent Choice Start Safely is managed by 66 Senior Private Rental Specialists state-wide.

What difference will we make?

Rent Choice Start Safely helps to ensure people experiencing domestic and family violence are supported to find safe, affordable housing and financial independence through a subsidy and links to supports.

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