Call for more wheelchair liveable social housing in Dublin

by Rachel Cunningham
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Rachel Cunningham

The national director of housing at Irish Wheelchair Association, Tony Cunningham, the “complete absence” of wheelchair liveable housing options in Dublin.

“We know that in Dublin and across Ireland there isn’t just an accessible housing shortage, there is a complete absence of any wheelchair liveable housing options. As a result, across Ireland 1,300 young and middle-aged people with physical disabilities have been forced to live in nursing homes for older people because of the lack of accessible social housing. This cannot be the future and there is a lot of work to do locally and nationally for our housing campaign”, he stated.

His comments came as the Irish Wheelchair Association launched Think Ahead, Think Housing 2022, its annual campaign calling for more social housing for people with disabilities.

The aim of the campaign is to encourage disabled people in the county to think about the future and  to apply to South Dublin and Dun-Laoghaire Rathdown County Councils for housing if they will need it in the coming years.

Mr Cunningham explained that the campaign is for, “anyone with a disability in south Dublin who wants to move out of home and begin their independent life or anyone who is worried about where they will end up living as they get older”.

“Across our membership we see that there is no wheelchair liveable housing available through private rental or local authorities,” he added. “At Irish Wheelchair Association we are campaigning for change, but it is the responsibility of disabled people to apply to their local authority for social housing in order to be included in local authorities’ new housing development plans, which will take a number of years to be completed.” 

In 2021 Irish Wheelchair Association was part of a successful campaign to have ‘wheelchair liveable accommodation’ included as an option on social housing application forms.

Jean Coleman, Irish Wheelchair Association’s national housing programme manager, advises that now is the right time to apply for social housing: “The government’s national housing strategy aims to increase the supply of social housing to an average of 33,000 per year over the next decade through €4billion state funding per year.”

She highlighted that it’s the first time that applicants can register their need for wheelchair liveable accommodation on their application form. Prior to 2021, it had not been possible to specifically include accessibility requirements on a social housing application form.

“At Irish Wheelchair Association, we have even more ambitious plans to change Ireland’s outdated inaccessible building regulations. But we need disabled people who want to live independently to contact their local county council, get included and be seen. We can only achieve change together,” Mr Cunningham concluded.

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