Cyril & Brid Gerety, Tracey Heighton and Martin Tarmey
Last week Longford members of Irish Wheelchair Association's community centre in Kenagh, Longford came together to highlight the organisation's housing campaign, 'Think Ahead, Think Housing'.
It's part of a national campaign tackling the shortage of social housing for people with disabilities. Think Ahead, Think Housing is encouraging disabled people who don't live in a suitable home to apply to their local authority for accessible housing through www.iwa.ie /housing
The campaign is working directly with Longford County Council and local authorities nationwide, among others, so that people with disabilities across Ireland are fully included in social housing planning and building.
"5,000 people with disabilities in Ireland are currently waiting for social housing in Ireland" according to Martin Tarmey, Service Coordinator with Irish Wheelchair Association based in Kenagh, Longford. "But people with physical disabilities find it almost impossible to find accessible private rental accommodation throughout Ireland. They also cannot adapt rented accommodation to make it wheelchair liveable."
A recent report has also revealed that nationwide 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. "That is an average of 50 people in Longford and in every county in Ireland who are stuck in a nursing home because there is no social housing for them. Their lives are wasting away" according to Martin Tarmey.
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 this summer.
Martin Tarmey, Irish Wheelchair Association in Longford 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.”
Since this summer, 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.
Martin Tarmey, Irish Wheelchair Association concluded: “Since May 2021 for the first time a person with a disability could request wheelchair liveable accommodation in a social housing application. It's important that people with disabilities across Longford know that things are changing and they need to think about housing and where they want to live now and when they get older."
Irish Wheelchair Association’s ‘Think Ahead, Think Housing’ campaign is working directly with local authorities, The Housing Agency, Irish Council for Social Housing, HSE, Citizen’s Information and Disability Federation of Ireland among others to ensure all people with disabilities across Ireland are included and represented in social housing planning and delivery.
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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