The Irish Wheelchair Association has launched a national campaign 'Think Ahead Think Housing' to tackle the shortage of social housing for people with disabilities across Ireland.
The campaign is working directly with Louth County Council and local authorities nationwide, among others, to ensure people with disabilities across Ireland are included and represented in social housing planning and delivery.
Service Coordinator with the Irish Wheelchair Association in Louth Sarah McKeown said: “We know of disabled people waiting years on the housing list, with no idea of when a house will be available, and there are many more people living with parents and guardians or in nursing homes, as they cannot move out and move on.
"People with disabilities have a right to live independently in the community, but to date their needs have not been catered for.
"Most people with disabilities do not want to be dependent on relatives or elderly parents for accommodation as they grow older themselves, but they face barriers and discrimination that make getting a home of their own particularly difficult.
"Think Ahead, Think Housing will advise people with disabilities about how to apply for a social house with their local authority by giving step-by-step advice.
"Importantly, it will also support the Government to plan for the current and future housing gap that exists by encouraging people with disabilities to think ahead and register their future housing need now.
“Up until April 2021 requesting wheelchair liveable accommodation in a social housing application was not possible.
"This is one reason why we believe people with disabilities have been chronically under-represented in social housing planning and delivery, but we are hopeful this is about to change."
Over 5,000 people with disabilities are currently waiting for social housing across the country. Irish Wheelchair Association believes this figure is an under-representation of the actual need.
A recent report has also revealed that 1,300 young and middle-aged people with physical disabilities have been forced to live in elderly nursing homes because of the lack of accessible social housing.
Think Ahead, Think Housing is encouraging disabled people to state their current and future social housing needs now, by applying to their local authority through its newly revised housing application form which was published last month.
Since last month, for the first time in Ireland, a person applying to their local authority for social housing will be able to request wheelchair accessible accommodation thanks to recent changes in the national social housing application form made by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
Paddy Donnelly, Director of Services with Louth County Council and member of the Housing and Disability Steering Group: "I welcome the new and revised social housing application form, which now provides people with disabilities the opportunity to have their needs recognised within their social housing application form.
"Louth County Council as a Housing Authority is committed to facilitating access, for people with disabilities to appropriate housing .
"We hope this new application form will provide us and all local authorities nationwide with more accurate information about the needs of people with disabilities within our communities to allow us to plan and deliver appropriate housing for people with physical and mental disabilities.
"We look forward to continuing to work with Irish Wheelchair Association and all the members of the Housing and Disability Steering Group to promote equality of opportunity, individual choice and independent living in the area."
For more details about how to apply to your local authority for social housing log onto www.iwa.ie/thinkhousing or contact your local authority.
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