5,000 people with disabilities waiting for social housing

It is estimated that 1,300 young and middle-aged people with physical disabilities have been forced to live in nursing homes for older people.
5,000 people with disabilities waiting for social housing

"People with disabilities have a right to live independently in the community, but to date their needs have not been catered for," said Tony Cunningham of the Irish Wheelchair Association.

The extreme shortage of social housing for people with disabilities has left some waiting on the housing list for over seven years.

There are over 5,000 disabled people currently waiting for social housing and the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) believes this is an under-representation of the actual need.

In addition, it is estimated that 1,300 young and middle-aged people with physical disabilities have been forced to live in nursing homes for older people.

Many people with disabilities are living with elderly parents and guardians or in unsuitable housing because there is not an adequate alternative available.

Tony Cunningham, Director of Housing in IWA, said people with disabilities have been chronically under-represented in social housing planning and delivery.

"People with disabilities have a right to live independently in the community, but to date their needs have not been catered for," said Mr Cunningham.

Until last month, it was not possible for a person applying to their local authority for social housing to be able to request wheelchair accessible accommodation.

A new campaign by the IWA is seeking to give the Government a more accurate estimation of the number of people around the country who need wheelchair-liveable social housing, alongside other kinds of disabilities.

Think Ahead, Think Housing, which was launched today, is encouraging disabled people to state their current and future social housing needs by applying to their local authority through the newly revised application form.

"This will help local authorities, housing agencies and developers to plan and deliver for the housing needs of our society," said Mr Cunningham.

"People with physical disabilities can be included in Ireland’s social housing strategy like never before."

Stephanie Walsh said she would encourage people to apply for housing ahead of time as people could be stuck on the housing list for a long time.

Stephanie, 29, is living independently in IWA transitional housing while she waits for permanent accessible housing from her local authority.

"My fear was that if I didn’t move out of home when I did, I was going to have to go into a nursing home where I didn’t want to be.

"I’d rather be somewhere I can have friends around me. I’m proud of myself getting this far," she said.

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