What is the Unison’s Private Rental Access Program? 

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 is funded by the Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) and plays a crucial part of a broader preventative housing strategy to reduce chronic housing instability and homelessness.

The program relies on collaboration between the State Government, not-for profit agencies and private real estate as part of a long-term vision to reduce homelessness. These strong relationships are key in making sure all Victorians have a secure, affordable home.

 

Supporting people with private rental housing 

The support provided through the PRAP is tailored to the needs of each household and 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 to provide short-term support to people who have experienced challenges in securing private rental. Unison works closely with property managers to get families into homes quickly and reduce the time spent in the homeless population.

Limited brokerage assistance is also available for rent to establish tenancies, rent arrears and, in some cases bond. This is achieved through developing relationships with Real Estate Agents and distributing flexible packages of financial assistance.

Unison’s experienced PRAP team also focuses on preventing eviction from private rental in our catchment. 

 

How to access Unison’s PRAP?

To be eligible for Unison’s private rental supports 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, you can contact Unison’s Private Rental Assistance Program team on (03) 9216 0304 who will assess your eligibility for the Program. 

To seek private rental support outside of these areas, please visit https://services.dffh.vic.gov.au/getting-help 

Your rent must also not exceed 55% of your household income.

 

 

How Unison’s PRAP makes a difference 

Unison works closely with our clients and real estate agencies to provide the best outcomes for the people and families we support. By assisting households secure or sustain 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 that used Unison’s PRAP service have maintained their housing and avoided homelessness. 

Part of the success of this program are the solid experience our team members have in working in property management and the strong relationships we have built with local Real Estate agents. 

 

Here are some testimonies from partners and clients:

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. 

“It was lockdown after lockdown after lockdown,” explains Rick. “Rent was creeping up. I took money out of my super to catch up with bills and rent. Everything spiralled out of control and I got behind in rent, I got behind in bills, I got behind in everything. It got to a point where I had exhausted all options. I was in a bad place.” 

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.   

“I really feel, after what I went through, that there is a positive way out. I have learnt that it’s important to ask for help and that there’s places out there that will help,” Rick said. 

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.  

“I was able to help her secure a private rental property, I helped her get white goods and provided her with tenancy support assisting with establishing rental payments and opening the communication between her and the agent.” 

Hollie went on to explain how the Program delivers much more than housing sustainability and why she is proud of the work she does as part of the PRAP team. 

“Her children are now living with her, her house is pristine, she got a job and her rent is paid 2 weeks in advance. 

“I developed a rapport with the woman and she knew I was there to give her a helping hand. Her confidence grew as she could see she was capable of creating a home and paying her rent and bills. This is an example is what I love about my job.” 

Read more: https://unison.org.au/news/rapport-and-great-relationships-the-key-to-success-for-unison-s-prap

------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 

Click here to read another testimony from one of our team: https://unison.org.au/news/private-rental-experience-is-a-real-plus-for-the-prap-team