Waiting List for Housing for People with Disabilities in Laois Exceeds 10 Years
“It is evident there is a significant disability housing need in the county”. That’s according to the Laois County Council Strategic Plan for Housing People with a Disability which was obtained by the Aontú Portlaoise Local Area Representative, Úna Doogue, on foot of a recent Freedom of Information request to the local authority.
Ms. Doogue said “Figures released to me in the past week through a series of questions under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that there are currently 70 people with a disability on the social housing list with Laois County Council. 22 people are waiting less than a year; 16 between 1 and 3 years; 16 between 3 and 5 years; 14 between 5 and 10 years, and 2 waiting more than 10 years. While the report does note the length of time on the list doesn’t take account of refusals of offers, I believe it reflects an accurate picture being aware of similar waiting periods in other local authorities”.
Ms. Doogue continued “Under the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities a person with a disability has the right to access to public housing. Waiting up to 10 years for social housing in an area of their preferred choice to be close to their natural supports is way beyond what’s considered to be reasonable, in my view”.
“Quite shockingly, out of 28 people with a disability currently engaging with the Homeless Services at Laois County Council, 17 of those have an Intellectual Disability. The Strategic Plan also forecasts an emerging need of housing for people with various categories of disability at 30 annually within the county. Unless housing allocations for people with disabilities are accelerated to meet the demand, I believe current waiting periods will prove detrimental to their wellbeing and is in contravention of their human rights”.
Ms. Doogue says “Following the announcement in the recent budget of 90 million euro for housing supports for people with disabilities, the elderly and members of the Travelling Community, I immediately sought a breakdown of this figure in a Dáil question through the Aontú leader, Peadar Tóibín, to determine how much funding under each category will be allocated to each local authority. While 70 million euro is allocated towards housing supports for the elderly and people with disabilities mostly towards housing adaptions, when you divide that across 31 local authorities around the country it’s actually miniscule and doesn’t meet the demand. Information procured by me from Laois County Council shows that each year the number of applications for housing grants for people with disabilities and housing aid for older persons is greater than the numbers awarded”.
“Currently 18 people with disabilities are on the housing transfer list requiring more suitable accommodation. The number with a disability in receipt of HAP is 30, but private rented accommodation is not appropriate in all cases particularly where adaptions are needed requiring the permission of the landlord”.
“In the past month I made a representation to Laois County Council where a family with a young boy with a disability renting privately in Portlaoise town is in urgent need of physically accessible social housing having assessed the situation myself. The child’s mother and his young teenage brother have to manoeuvre him up and down a very steep and narrow stairs posing a significant fall risk to all the family. The young boy has to be confined to his bedroom from 5.30pm onwards unable to spend time with his family downstairs as it would be impossible to get him upstairs any later due to the effects of his medication for his various complex health issues”.
“Having worked with the National Supported Employment Programme, I’m acutely aware that even where people with disabilities are in a position to work, they face enormous barriers in accessing employment in the labour market resulting in reduced earning capacity making the private purchase of their own home out of the reach of many”.
“Under-investing in our most vulnerable and failure to prioritise their basic human needs reflects the ongoing legacy of continually electing political representatives across the country more interested in being present at Galway tents and Galway golf dinners”, Ms. Doogue concluded.