Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Questions (595, 596, 597, 598)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

595. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the development of five year strategic plans by each housing and disability steering group. [21322/18]

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Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

596. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of assessment of housing needs which were carried out with disabled persons in each local authority area since the publication of the National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability 2011-2016. [21323/18]

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Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

597. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of units of accommodation which have been provided for persons with disabilities since the publication of the National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability 2011-2016 based on assessment of housing needs carried out by each local authority. [21324/18]

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Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

598. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the local authorities which have undertaken awareness raising campaigns with private landlords and letting agents regarding renting to persons with disabilities as per action 1.3.2 of the national implementation framework of the National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability 2011–2016. [21325/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 595 to 598, inclusive, together.

The National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability Strategy (NHSPWD) 2011-2016 and associated National Implementation Framework are joint publications by my Department and the Department of Health. They set out the Government’s broad framework for the delivery of housing for people with a disability through mainstream housing policy. The Strategy, which identified 9 Strategic Aims supported by a number of priority actions and key measures, was affirmed in the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan and extended to 2020 to continue to deliver on its aims.

Section 63(3) of the Local Government Act 2001 provides that, subject to law, a local authority is independent in the performance of its functions. Accordingly, the day-to-day operation of the social housing system, including assessments for social housing support, is a matter for the relevant local authority. Information on the number of households qualified for and in need of social housing support whose need has not been met is set out in the statutory Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA) which, since 2016, is carried out annually. The most recent assessment was carried out in 2017, full details of which are available on my Department's website, at the following link:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/sha_summary_2017.pdf.

The following table shows the total number of households in each of the most recent summary of assessments for 2017 that were identified as having a housing need based on a disability:

SSHA

Basis of Need - Disability

2013

3,938

2016

5,753

2017

5,772

The increase in numbers shows that people with disabilities are now applying to local authorities in greater numbers than before, particularly since 2013, indicating a greater awareness of the social housing supports available. The increase in numbers seeking assessment of their housing needs can be attributed in no small part to the development of the National Guidelines for the Assessment and Allocation Process for Housing Provision for People with a Disability, which were adopted for implementation by local authorities in 2014. Following an extensive consultation with stakeholders, my Department issued revised Guidelines to local authorities in October 2017; these are available at the following link:

https://www.housingagency.ie/Housing/media/Media/Disability%20Strategy/National-Guidelines-for-the-Assessment-and-Allocation-Process-for-Housing-Provision-for-People-with-a-Disability.pdf.

Additionally, in furthering the objectives of the NHSPWD, the Housing Agency has published a number of documents to support people with disabilities to access social housing supports through local authorities. These include "Housing Options" and "An Easy to Read Guide to filling in the Social Housing Support Application Form". All documents are available on the websites of the Housing Agency, the local authorities and Citizens' Information. Work is also underway on Easy Read versions of the Housing Adaptation Grants forms and the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), which will be available shortly.

In accordance with the vision and strategic aims of the NHSPWD to achieve a coordinated and integrated approach to meeting the housing needs of people with a disability at local level, Housing and Disability Steering Groups (HDSGs) have been established in all local authority areas. These are chaired by the Directors of Housing with membership including the HSE and disability representatives. Each HDSG has prepared a local Strategic Plan for its own City/County area, to develop specific local strategies to meet the identified and emerging housing needs of people with disabilities in their areas with a view to developing annual targets for the delivery of housing to people with a disability on their housing waiting lists. All Plans are now operational in each local authority and the majority of them have already been published on the relevant local authority websites with the remainder due to be published in due course. These Plans, along with the Summary of Social Housing Assessments, allow local authorities to plan more strategically for the housing needs of people with a disability and will support the delivery of accommodation using all appropriate housing mechanisms. My Department does not hold data on the number of units of accommodation provided specifically for people with disabilities.

Priority action 1.3 of the Framework is to “promote the increased use of the private rental sector to meet the housing needs of people with disabilities”. There are three key measures under this Action, including Action 1.3.2 “Awareness raising campaigns will be undertaken amongst private landlords and letting agents regarding renting to people with disabilities”. In tandem with the work of the HDSG’s, accommodation solutions for people with disabilities are being put in place through schemes such as the Long Term Leasing Scheme and the Rental Accommodation Scheme. Additional leasing initiatives have been developed such as the Repair and Leasing scheme launched in 2017 and the Enhanced Long Term Social Housing Leasing Scheme launched in January 2018. Under the Enhanced Leasing Scheme, the extent to which proposals make provision for wheelchair accessible properties is specifically taken into account. The annual targets under the Local Housing and Disability Strategies will ensure that a proportion of the properties leased from private landlords/developers will be allocated to people with a disability.

Local authorities also support households with a disability through the Housing Assistance Payment. This scheme has been widely promoted to private landlords. Currently a working group set up under the NHSPWD is scoping out work on key measure 1.3.2 as part of their workplan for 2018, including the potential role of an awareness campaign. It is also intended to seek the views of private landlords and letting agents on their experiences renting to people with a disability. The work on this key measure is due for completion by Q4 2018.

The supports put in place since the launch of the Strategy in 2011, together with substantial funding provided by my Department, point to tangible progress for housing for people with disabilities and accord with the Programme for Government commitment to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Question No. 599 answered with Question No. 594.