Think Ahead, Think Housing encourages people with disabilities to apply for social housing, as over 5,000 people await homes.

Irish Wheelchair Association has launched a national campaign to tackle the extreme shortage of social housing for people with disabilities across Ireland. Think Ahead, Think Housing, launched today, 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.

Tony Cunningham, Director of Housing in Irish Wheelchair Association said:

“Over 5,000 people with disabilities are currently waiting for social housing in Ireland, which is believed to be an under-representation of the actual need. On top of this, approximately 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.

“We know of disabled people waiting over seven years on the housing list, with no idea of when a house will be available and many people living with parents and guardians, in unsuitable housing 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 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 last month, 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 Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Tony Cunningham said: “Up until April 2021 requesting wheelchair liveable accommodation in a social housing application was not possible. This is one reason why we believe people with disabilities have been chronically under-represented in social housing planning and delivery, but we are hopeful this is about to change.

“Through our campaign, we want to give the Government a more accurate estimation of the number of people nationwide who need wheelchair-liveable social housing, alongside other kinds of disabilities. This will help local authorities, housing agencies and developers to plan and deliver for the housing needs of our society. People with physical disabilities can be included in Ireland’s social housing strategy like never before.”

Stephanie Walsh (29) lives independently in Irish Wheelchair Association transitional housing, while she waits for a permanent accessible house from her local authority in Dublin

I would really encourage people who want to move out to do it before your family gets old, because you could be a while on the list for housing. I’d encourage people to put your name down now. My fear was that if I didn’t move out of home when I did, I was going to have to go into a nursing home where I didn’t want to be. I’d rather be somewhere I can have friends around me. I’m proud of myself getting this far,” she said.

My fear was that if I didn’t move out of home when I did, I was going to have to go into a nursing home where I didn’t want to be.

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, visit our Think Ahead, Think Housing page

For media queries contact Communications in Irish Wheelchair Association:

Catherine Ginty
086 343 7896

Meabh Smith
087 246 3568