What is the Unison Private Rental Access Program (PRAP)?
Unison’s Private Rental Access Program (PRAP) supports low-income households to secure and maintain private rental housing through brokerage, advocacy and outreach support.
The program, funded by the Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH), plays a crucial part in a broader preventative housing strategy to reduce chronic housing instability and homelessness.
The program relies on collaboration between the Victorian State Government, not-for-profit agencies and private real estate as part of a long-term vision to reduce homelessness. These strong relationships are vital in ensuring all Victorians have a secure, affordable home.
Supporting people with private rental housing
The PRAP provides support tailored to the needs of each household. It may include financial assistance to move into or remain living in private rental housing, practical support and referral to services such as financial counselling.
One aspect of the program is providing short-term support to people experiencing challenges securing a private rental. Unison works closely with property managers to get families into homes quickly and reduce the time spent homeless.
Limited brokerage assistance is also available for rent to establish tenancies, rent arrears and, in some cases, bonds. We can offer this service through relationships with real estate agents and by distributing flexible financial assistance packages.
Unison’s experienced PRAP team also focuses on preventing eviction from a private rental in our catchment.
Accessing Unison’s PRAP
To be eligible for private rental support with Unison, your rent must be below 55% of your household income, and you must reside in one of the following Local Government Areas:
- City of Hobsons Bay
- City of Maribyrnong
- City of Melbourne (except the CBD)
- City of Mooney Valley
- City of Wyndham
If you live in one of the areas listed above and you need help with your private rental tenancy, CLICK HERE to complete the PRAP Application Form.
Unison’s PRAP team is available on (03) 9216 0304.
To seek private rental support outside of these areas, please visit https://services.dffh.vic.gov.au/getting-help
How Unison’s PRAP makes a difference
Unison works closely with clients and real estate agents to provide the best outcomes for the people and families we support. By assisting households in securing or sustaining private rental tenancies, we are reducing pressure on the demand for public and social housing and keeping families safe and in their community.
Our research shows that 8 in 10 households using Unison's PRAP service have maintained housing and avoided homelessness.
The success of this program relies on our team members' experience, some of whom have worked in property management, and our relationships with local real estate agents.
Laura Grech, Senior Property Manager at Greg Hocking Real Estate has been working with Unison for several years. Laura said, “Unison is one of our key partners in assisting at risk households to sustain their tenancy. We assist with initiating early intervention and Unison is always there to help our tenants who are going through a difficult patch with temporary support.”
Michelle Evans, Director of Property Management at Eview Werribee said, “Through our cooperation with Unison, we have been able to house a number of families that otherwise would have been homeless or placed on waiting lists to access public or social housing. “With Unison, we are able to give many people hope that they will be able to obtain rental history and join the private rental market permanently without fear of being evicted; because together, we have been able to ensure they budget well, maintain the property and are good tenants that landlords want to keep,” Michelle added.
Rick had fallen in hard times because of the repeated lockdowns in Melbourne in 2020 and 2021.
Rick was put in contact with Unison’s homelessness services and our PRAP team worked closely with Rick’s agent, who agreed to reduce Rick’s rent. The team also managed to assist him in sustaining his tenancy by clearing his arrears and providing relief for the month forward while he seeks employment again.
Read Rick’s story here: https://unison.org.au/news/back-on-his-feet-and-inspiring-others-to-seek-help
Unison’s PRAP worker Hollie shares an example of a family she worked with:
“A woman came to us after sleeping in her car for over 6 months. Her children were staying with her mother at the time. She had a history of evictions, a poor rental history and a poor credit rating,” Hollie explained.