Livability would like to offer their full support to the spinal cord injury charity Aspire in relation to their recent report on the lack of accessible housing in England for wheelchair users: ‘Wheelchair accessible housing – waiting for appropriate housing in England’.
The report finds that there is a huge housing shortage for wheelchair users in England; with almost 24,000 still waiting for appropriate social or affordable housing. Part of the reason for this is that local authorities continue to give the small number of accessible properties to non-wheelchair users. In London (2008-2009), for example, around 70% of accessible properties went to non-wheelchair users. Livability’s ‘Freedom to Live’ report from 2008 also showed that just 15% of disabled people had a secure long-term tenancy or owned their own home – as recently referred to in the Guardian. If these problems remain unresolved, Aspire estimate that it will take 6 years to meet demand, and that’s not accounting for new wheelchair users coming into the system.
To resolve these problems Aspire suggest that local authorities prioritise the supply of accessible housing to wheelchair users over non-wheelchair users. To make this possible they suggest that 10% of all new build properties should be wheelchair accessible by law. They believe that local authorities should expand their housing ownership so that they can remove accessible houses from the general bidding process and have more control over how housing is allocated to ensure that it goes to those who need it most. Some positive moves have been made in these directions by the government in their recent consultation on future housing, however more solid commitment is needed.
Accessible housing is an issue which Livability takes a great deal of interest in. Our recent fundraising campaign, the Home Design Appeal, was set up to provide disabled people with accessible kitchens and bathrooms to allow for an independent lifestyle and hopes to help provide a solution to the accessible housing shortage.