Because of my son, Brendan Bjorn, who is severely disabled with profound care needs, I am on the disability-modified housing wait list, but let me be clear right from the start of this piece, my family is NOT included in the statistics I am about to discuss. Why not? If a family is availing of HAP, as just one example, the Department of Housing does NOT include them in their housing figures because they are then considered to have their housing need met.
I start this piece with the above information because it is a tremendously important omission – and dare I question, intentional?
To get a truly accurate picture of just how many people with disabilities are waiting for suitable, modified social housing, it is my opinion that the Department of Housing MUST include everyone who is currently deemed to have their housing needs met. Clearly, their needs are NOT met or they wouldn’t be seeking DISABILITY SUITABLE HOUSING from their county council.
With that logical clarification, let me move on to the statistics. Again, keep in mind families like my own are NOT included in these figures because we are currently availing of HAP on the private rental market (albeit in a completely unsuitable, unsafe house that is over 100 years old in which I cannot even shower my 13 year old son).
*All statistics are taken from the Summary of Social Housing Assessments 2017, published by Rebuilding Ireland in December 2017 using data compiled in June 2017*
In this report, disability is divided into 5 categories: Physical, Sensory, Mental Health, Other, and Intellectual. The total amount of people with disabilities shown waiting for suitable social housing is 5,772. The breakdown is as follows:
- Physical – 2,084
- Sensory – 381
- Mental Health – 1,691
- Other – 45
- Intellectual – 1,571
There is also an Exceptional Medical Needs category, not listed with Disability, and that figure is 1,564.
Almost 15% of households on the housing waiting list have special accommodation requirements.
There are 4,326 people awaiting suitable social housing who have Enduring Physical, Sensory, Mental Health or Intellectual Issues.
There are 2,084 people with Physical Disability awaiting suitable, modified social housing. I repeat this number from above because their requirements are generally not met by the typical social housing unit which is a semi-detached house where the bedrooms and bathroom are all upstairs. Often, what is required is special housing such as modified bungalows which must be built or acquired by the county council. This is simply not happening, at least not anywhere near the rate required.
Again, at the risk of repeating myself, keep in mind that people who receive HAP, RAS, SHCEP, or people on the transfer housing lists are deemed to have their housing needs met so are not included in these figures.
It leaves me to wonder…
What would the figures be if these people not included were actually included in this report?
What would the figures be if each county was to state how many are on their specific disability housing lists, regardless of if they avail of other schemes at the moment? (Note: not all councils consider anything other than physical disabilities for their disability housing list)
What does it take for the members of society with disabilities to be treated with the same level of equality, respect and dignity afforded to those who are not disabled?
At what point is our society going to realise that disability is the only minority group that anyone can join at anytime? And if people realised that fact, would it change the way people with disabilities are treated? I would like to think so.
“The true measure of any society can be found
in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”