Ausnew Home Care | Anwen Handmer bought this house two years ago but can't afford mortgage repayments, modifications

Anwen Handmer bought this house two years ago but can't afford mortgage repayments, modifications

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When Anwen Handmer bought her home in Bunbury, south of Perth, two years ago she felt she'd done it against all odds.

Being a single mother, a visual artist and having muscular dystrophy, it was a dream she never thought would come true.

"It brings me a lot of joy," she said.

Anwen was diagnosed at 19 but has only needed a wheelchair full time in the past four years.

Big canvases of her work fill the walls of her home and the shelves are full of books.

"This house and the things around me speak of the privilege of having not always been a wheelchair user and having experienced life in lots of different ways," she said.

A book shelf full of coloured books
Anwen is proud of her home.()

Part of her community

Anwen's support worker, Shamus O'Neill, said walkers often dropped past around dusk to admire her garden and have a chat.

He said Anwen was well-loved in her community, evidenced by a kind neighbour mowing her lawn when he did his. 

Sunflowers in a garden
Anwen has also planted a beautiful garden.()

"She'll go down the street and people will stop her and just say, 'Hey, how are ya?' and I'm like, "Oh, good lord, here we go, there's another half hour, 40 minutes,'" he said.

But Anwen is worried she can't stay because she expects her mortgage repayments would be roughly $17,000 this year.

She can no longer afford them, as well as expensive modifications she needs to make to the property.

So she's considering moving into specialist disability accommodation in Perth, a scheme she's eligible for under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) but which would cost the taxpayer $113,000 a year.

A shower with rails in it for an NDIS participant
Anwen has already paid for some modifications to her home.()

She's grateful to have the option but uncomfortable about the expense.

"In terms of mortgage repayments, I have to be honest … I don't think that's necessarily the bit that the NDIS should fix," she said.

"I think the bit that they need to look at arguably is the sustainability issue around the way that the process is by which participants can apply for really expensive stuff like specialised home modifications."

Red tape and home modifications

In a statement, Minister for the NDIS Bill Shorten said he had "heard about issues surrounding red tape and home modifications".

"I acknowledge this is absolutely an issue – that's why the NDIS review is looking at resolutions," he said. 

A woman in a burgundy dress, sitting in a wheelchair, playing the piano
Anwen is a talented visual artist who also enjoys playing the piano.()

"In the meantime I've reached out to the agency to see what else they can do to help Anwen and other participants in the same predicament."

Anwen hasn't made a final decision about whether to stay or go but has begun packing up anyway.

If she leaves, she'll rent her house out, in the hope she can move back in when interest rates and her repayments start to fall.

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