The tenure type of Indigenous households differs from that of other Australian households. Indigenous households are much less likely to be owner/purchaser households and much more likely to live in some form of social housing such as state or territory owned housing or Indigenous or mainstream community housing. The proportion of Indigenous households who are purchasing their own home, however, is increasing. The proportion of Indigenous people who lived in households in which someone was purchasing their home rose from 11% in 1994 to 17% in 2002.
The housing tenure of Indigenous households varies by remoteness reflecting, in part, the availability of different tenure options for Indigenous people. Among Indigenous households in non-remote areas, 34% were home owners, 32% were private or other renters and 24% were renting from state or territory housing authorities. One-half of Indigenous households in remote areas were renting from Indigenous or mainstream community housing providers and only 14% were home owners.
Some Indigenous households, especially those in remote areas, live in conditions that do not support good health. Some 9% of Indigenous households in Australia were living in overcrowded conditions, which can contribute to the spread of infectious diseases and put stress on basic household facilities. The highest rate of overcrowding occurred in households that were renting from Indigenous or mainstream community housing providers (34%).
Dwelling condition and connection to essential services are also important issues in relation to Indigenous community housing. There were 1,882 temporary or improvised dwellings in discrete Indigenous communities. Among permanent dwellings in these communities, 31% required major repair or replacement and 153 had no organised sewerage supply.
There were 7,526 Indigenous people who were homeless in 2001. The rate of Indigenous homelessness was 3.5 times the rate of non-Indigenous homelessness. Indigenous people were also more likely to use SAAP services, especially Indigenous women who made up nearly three-quarters of Indigenous SAAP clients.