National Housing Strategy for Disabled People 2022-2027

Posted on Wednesday, 19 January 2022
Main Image
Accommodation for All
Page Content

The Government has recently published the National Housing Strategy for Disabled People, 2022-2027. The stated vision for the strategy is "To facilitate disabled people to live independently with the appropriate choices and control over where, how and with whom they live, promoting their inclusion in the community. To further enable equal access for disabled people to housing with integrated support services." This is a very welcome vision, which must be sufficiently resourced for delivery.


The new strategy is centred around six themes:

  • Theme 1: Accessible Housing and Communities. This focuses on the provision of accessible housing for people living with a disability and the promotion of universal design principles.
  • Theme 2: Interagency Collaboration and the Provision of Supports. This will include better collaboration between Local Authorities and the HSE, inter-departmental cooperation and information sharing between agencies.
  • Theme 3: Affordability of Housing. This focuses on enabling access to affordable housing for people with disabilities. 
  • Theme 4: Communication and Access to Information. This aims to ensure that people with disabilities are not disadvantaged in communicating their needs and in the communication they receive. 
  • Theme 5: Knowledge, Capacity, and Expertise: This theme seeks to increase awareness and understanding of disability and housing within the relevant organisations, such as Local Authorities, Approved Housing Bodies, the HSE, and disability service providers.. It also places an emphasis on increasing awareness regarding disabled people’s effective participation and inclusion in their communities.
  • Theme 6: Strategy Alignment. This theme places a focus on ensuring that all Government strategies and policies from a housing perspective promote the rights of disabled people, in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

These themes are all very welcome and, if delivered simultaneously could work towards providing real, sustainable housing solutions for people with disabilities. 



Housing and Disability

According to Census 2016, 19.3 per cent (112,904 people) of persons with a disability were living alone, accounting for 28 per cent of all persons living alone on Census night.  Both the number of persons with a disability, and the rate of living alone among those persons has increased since 2011. A further 44,531 persons with a disability lived in communal establishments, a reduction of 421 (0.9 per cent) on 2011. A total of 49,426 persons in the State aged 65 and over were living in communal establishments, with 31,033 being persons with a disability.  Of these people aged 65 and above, 20,702 were living in nursing homes, 6,866 were in hospital and 3,465 were reported as living with religious institutions, shelters and refuges on Census night 2016.

In the breakdown of Accommodation Requirements in the Summary of Social Housing Needs Assessments, 4,000 households reported, within the specific breakdown of housing requirements, a household member as having an enduring physical, sensory, mental health or intellectual disability, a decrease of 3 per cent on the previous year. A breakdown of the Main Need for Social Housing Support shows that 5,800 households reported some form of disability, a decrease from 6,173 the previous year. 

In 2019, funding was allocated or increased to a number of schemes to support housing for older people and people living with a disability.  In March 2019, the Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development announced a €71.25 million fund for Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability, an increase of 8 per cent on the previous year.  In June 2019, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and the Minister of State for Disability Issues announced €15.075 million in funding for the Disabled Persons Grant (DPG), which supports adaptations and extensions to existing Local Authority housing stock, and the Improvement Works in Lieu of Local Authority Housing Scheme (IWILS) which supports improvements or extensions to private housing stock where the tenant has been approved for social housing, “meeting their social housing need” and reducing the waiting list for social housing.  These schemes are important and necessary, and the increases are to be welcomed, however they are still catching up from previous years of underfunding.

In 2014, extensions to 89 local authority houses were commenced under the Extensions to Local Authority Housing Scheme (as it is referred to in the Housing Statistics section of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government’s website), with a further 51 approved but not yet commenced.  In 2017, works on just 28 Local Authority houses had commenced, with approvals for a further 9. By the end of 2019, 110 extensions had been commenced, with a further 32 approved.

The scheme to improve private properties (IWILS) has not been so successful, notwithstanding the increase in funding.  In 2014, works had completed on 105 properties and was in progress on 1 more.  By the end of 2019, works in respect of just 2 houses had been completed, with 4 more in progress. While the majority (almost 69 per cent) of people living with a disability own their own home with or without a mortgage (Central Statistics Office, 2017b), 12.4 per cent are living in the private rented sector (an increase of almost 13 per cent in real numbers of persons living with a disability in the private rented sector compared to Census 2011). The IWILS scheme is only available to people who are deemed eligible for social housing, which would exclude most of the 69 per cent who are owner occupiers.  There is little incentive for private landlords to modify their properties to meet the needs of tenants living with a disability or older tenants when they could attract equal or higher rents with new tenants.

Housing Adaptation Grants

The new Strategy states that "The Housing Adaptation Grant Schemes have allowed many individuals and families remain in their homes. It is important that these grants are continuously reviewed to ensure that they remain fit for purpose, including the examination of the inclusion of grants for assistive technology to take advantage of the improvements in technology.". However it fails to take recognise the reductions in both the level and recipients of housing adaptation grants in the past two decades.

Housing Adaptation Grants is the collective term given to the three grants:  Housing Aid for Older People, Housing Aid for People with a Disability and Mobility Aid Grant.  These grants are provided to eligible people to modify their own homes, allowing them to live at home, within their communities, for longer. Given the large proportion of people living with a disability who own their own homes, the Housing Adaptation Grants are especially important.  In 2010, a total of €77.3 million was paid in respect of 13,588 grants.  These grants were subject to cuts during the austerity years, and in 2013 reached their lowest point in the decade, with €37.7 million paid in respect of 7,011 grants, less than half 2010 levels.  Building on moderate increases since 2015, the total amount paid in respect of these grants in 2018 was €51.2 million in respect of 9,413 grants. An improvement on 2013, but still just two-thirds of 2010 levels (Table 1).

  Table 1:

Housing Adaptation Grants, by Type, 2010-2018


Housing Aid for Older People

Housing Aid for People with a Disability

Mobility Aid Grant


No. of Grants Paid

Value €,000

No. of Grants Paid

Value €,000

No. of Grants Paid

Value €,000






























Source:  Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, Housing Statistics, Other Local Authority Housing Scheme Statistics, Housing adaption grants, various years

Social Justice Ireland welcomed the increase to Housing Adaption Grants in Budget 2021, however the scale of the issue shows there is much more to be done. In addition, delays in accessing the necessary Occupational Therapists to certify a need for home modifications means that people living with disabilities may be at risk in their homes due to lack of necessary works.

Lack of availability of grants for home modifications coupled with low income, lower levels of educational attainment (13.7 per cent had completed no more than primary education, compared to 4.2 per cent of the general population) and a prevalence of poverty means that those with a disability are unlikely to be able to afford adequate accommodation to support independent or assisted living.

Social Justice Ireland believes that ensuring that people with a disability can live independently where possible should be a key policy priority. Resourcing the new Strategy, including the ancillary supports and resources that are required to meet ones basic needs, must be a priority.