Reported by Scottish Housing News – the news we share raises awareness of equality issues being reported in the media.
Disabled home-seekers are experiencing significant emotional distress due to a lack of suitable housing, according to leading housing experts.
An 18-month-long study led by researchers at the University of Stirling, Housing Options Scotland and Horizon Housing Association observed the effectiveness of allocations and lettings practices for accessible and adapted social housing in Scotland.
Of the 28 disabled home-seekers based in three local authority areas who participated in the research, the majority had received offers for inappropriate housing or no offers at all during the course of the study.
The co-production approach adopted by the University of Stirling researchers Dianne Theakstone and Julia Lawrence allowed disabled people to be closely involved in the study.
In an interview with one of the female participants seeking more suitable housing, the interviewee detailed that despite the installation of a stair-lift in her current home, she had to make eight consecutive transfers between a chair, wheelchair, stair-lift and toilet to use the bathroom.
Some interviewees also argued that the importance of access to a garden should be recognised by housing allocation systems to ensure emotional wellbeing. They also argued that the needs of the main applicant should not be the only considerations taken into account. Rather, they believed that the needs of the other occupants within the home should be recognised.
Leader of the research team, Professor Isobel Anderson, said: “Disabled people’s extended lived experience of inappropriate housing, while waiting for a more accessible home, clearly causes considerable physical and mental harm. The key findings highlighted a proactive approach from local housing providers, yet distance between their aspirations and the experiences of disabled people.”
She added: “Disabled people and their families should have equal housing opportunities and the right to an accessible home in the community that ensures and protects their human rights. This academically rigorous report gives all stakeholders the opportunity and evidence to shape lettings policy and practice to optimise effectiveness in matching disabled people to suitable homes, as well as increasing our stock of accessible housing.”
Supported by a research grant from the Disability Research into Independent Living and Learning (DRILL) programme, this Match Me study also uncovered crucial evidence that the assessment of the suitability of a property should not only look at the access and internal features of the home, but should also consider the accessibility of the external environment and the opportunities for the applicant to maintain local support networks.