‘Home’ can mean many things to many people. For some, it is an oasis from the world outside the door, an environment where you can be your true self. For others, it is a place to share with those closest to you, a place warm with love and laughter. Having your own home is a privilege many people take for granted, but for others – including many people with disabilities – achieving this fundamental ambition is far from straightforward. Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) understands this challenge and works constantly to support its members to reach this goal.
One housing option available to people with disabilities is social housing. Social Housing is an umbrella term for rental accommodation funded by the Government and provided by a City or County Council and by approved housing bodies, often known as Voluntary Housing Associations or Housing Co Operatives.
IWA members make up a significant number of the 4,000 people with a disability currently on social housing lists.
At present, the 2016 Triennial Housing Needs Assessment is now being carried out by City and County Councils and will continue up to the beginning of September. The purpose of the assessment is to provide the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government with a national picture of unmet and future housing needs. This information is used to plan to meet the identified need and is also used to inform the allocation of Government funding to housing authorities for their social housing supply programmes.
For future planning purposes and to ensure inclusion of people with a disability in the new Government Housing Action Plan, it is strategically very important that the housing need of people with a disability is strongly recorded in this assessment.
So what exactly are the housing options available to people with disabilities?
There are many housing options available to people with disabilities. ‘My Home – Housing Option and Issues’ is a DVD which was launched at this year’s IWA AGM and Conference. The DVD explores the various housing options available to people with disabilities and the supports available to assist individuals to live as independently as possible.
It also highlights the many challenges and barriers people with physical disabilities must overcome in their pursuit to live in a home of their own in their local communities.
Speaking about the housing needs assessment which is currently taking place all over the country, IWA Director Chris Hoey explained:
“All individuals who are currently on the Social Housing List have been written to by their relevant Local Authority. Each person has been asked to confirm they still have a social housing need, by completing a form and to give details of any change in their circumstances. It is vital that this form is completed to ensure that the housing needs of every individual remains registered”.
Staff in IWA Day Centres, throughout the country are there to support people with disabilities who are registered on local Social Housing Lists and who have been asked to complete and return the forms by their local Council. You can find contact details for your local IWA Day Centre here http://www.iwa.ie/information/locations/locations-map
IWA staff are also there to support anybody who would like to make a social housing application for the first time.
Operation Sign Up, an IWA housing initiative, offers people with disabilities a step-by-step guide to applying for social housing in the area in which they wish to live. All information and details about Operation Sign-Up and social housing can be found on http://www.iwa.ie/house.
If you are already on the social housing list, it is vitally important that you complete and return the assessment form which the Local Authority has sent to you. In this form you have been asked to include essential information and to provide details of any change in your circumstances. It is essential that this form is completed and returned to ensure that the housing needs of every individual remain registered.
For more information or to register with IWA Housing Support Service, contact Dolores Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01 818 6400