Housing associations are incorporated under the Associations Incorporation Act 1985 (SA) and registered under the Community Housing Providers (National Law) (South Australia) Act 2013 (SA). They are not-for-profit non-government organisations that are often linked to community based service organisations such as churches or welfare groups, and are managed on behalf of tenants by community volunteers. In some instances housing association management committees have places reserved for tenant participation. New tenants are generally referred to housing associations by religious, health or welfare agencies.
Housing associations provide housing for a range of people in the community including special needs groups where it is necessary to provide both housing and other support services.
The essential difference between housing co-operatives (soon to also become associations) and housing associations is that the co-operatives were originally set up and managed by the tenants, whereas housing associations are managed by community volunteers on behalf of tenants. Some associations also have paid staff to perform tenant and property management functions.