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'Overlooked': Calls for 'housing crisis' among disabled people to be addressed in Budget

Advocates say people with disabilities have been facing a housing crisis of their own.

Image: Shutterstock/beeboys

A PRE-BUDGET submission by members of the Oireachtas Disability Group has called for immediate housing supports to be provided for people with disabilities, who advocates say are being “overlooked” during the ongoing national housing crisis.

Budget 2020 is a week away from being announced by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and groups from across the country have been stating their case for the allocation of additional funding from the government.

The Oireachtas Disability Group, which includes politicians from across the political spectrum as well as disability organisations, submitted a number of measures in areas such as access to public transport, public services and education.

The biggest recommendations, however, come in the form of housing measures to safeguard vulnerable adults and children from entering homelessness, and to ensure any accommodation caters to their individual needs.

These measures include allocating €300,000 for a cost assessment of unmet housing needs; increasing funding for the housing adaptation grant by €28 million to 2010 levels; and committing 7.5% of social housing to those on local authority waiting lists due to their disability.

Vice-chair of the committee, Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the fact people with disabilities are represented within the 10,000 homeless people in Ireland is “totally and absolutely disgraceful”.

“We need to have resources of properly developed housing for people with disabilities on social housing waiting lists. You find people with disabilities are being allocated or earmarked for small housing units but the issues of access arises then and that brings more challenges,” he said.

“There is a difficulty in that there isn’t a targeted percentage in relation to local authority provision geared towards disability applications on housing waiting lists.

They are being overlooked and there is lots of evidence of that. We need to see housing tailored for people with disabilities… There has to be recognition of responsibility.

Independent Living Movement Ireland (ILMI), which advocates for the full and independent participation of people with disabilities in Irish life, said disabled people have been facing a housing crisis for years due to “severely limited” accommodation options.

“While the country is in the middle of a housing crisis, housing has always been a crisis for disabled people due to the lack of accessible housing [and] the lack of visibility of disabled people in discussions on housing and homelessness,” ILMI chair Michelle Gaynor said.

“Many disabled people are “hidden homeless”. They either live in someone else’s home or are in an institution. These people are not on any local authority housing lists. Their housing needs are not even being considered.”

ILMI has repeatedly raised concerns that people with disabilities are being placed in nursing homes and other institutions because housing is not being adapted to meet the needs of individuals who may require specific accommodation alterations to live independently. 

The pre-budget document has recommended €100 million through the Capital Assistance Scheme, with a further €15 million being made available so individuals can leave these congregated settings through new build or acquisitions, with enough funding for necessary adaptations. 

Transport and Education

Elsewhere, measures have been recommended in recognition of the challenges faced on public transport and in education for children and adults with disabilities. 

The ODG proposed audio and visual prompts for destinations and disruptions to services, network-wide wheelchair accessibility and full accessible ticketing services. 

Last month, the National Transport Authority announced a proposal to have all commercial bus routes fully wheelchair accessible by 2026. 

In education, the group has requested funding for a further 300 extra therapy staff for children’s services over the next four years, along with additional special needs’ assistants and greater supports for families for children transitioning from first to second-level education. 

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