A disabled woman has been awarded damages after her local housing authority took almost a year to decide on an application for a stairlift in her home. The woman who lives in Slough, an hour from London, relies on personal care assistants. She could not access her upstairs bedroom and bathroom. Therefore, she applied for a grant in May 2021.
She was forced to eat, bathe, and sleep downstairs. Additionally, she had no privacy when bathing. She bathed in front of the windows. Disabled people often have limited privacy when it comes to hygiene. Hiring strangers to help with bathing or toileting is a reality for many disabled people. Nobody should be forced to bathe in their living room because they can’t access the bathroom.
Following an investigation, Slough Borough Council was found to be at fault and ordered to compensate her £3,550. £3,550 is approximately $3,960 USD. The council was found to be using a points-based waiting list for modifications. The practice is against statutory guidance, according to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. It also discovered that the waiting list was an attempt to manage a backlog and avoid the requirement to examine applications within six months.
Globally, there is a lack of accessible housing. Only 9% of homes in the United Kingdom have essential features for disabled people. These include a level access entrance, a flush threshold, wide doorways, and a toilet at the entrance level. These requirements are the bare minimum for an accessible home. Many people require roll-in showers, ceiling lifts, and accessible kitchen appliances as well.
Sometimes, people can’t live in their families’ homes because the home is inaccessible. Ash Mason, 20, resides in a shed behind his parent’s garden in Derbyshire. Ash has been living here for three months. It’s a single room with a bed and a desk. There is no heating, kitchen, bathroom, or running water.
According to Habinteg Housing Association, a social housing provider, 104,000 people are on local authority waiting lists in England for an accessible or adapted home. According to Freedom of Information Act data, another 20,000 people are waiting for entirely wheelchair-accessible homes. Furthermore, according to the housing association, the wait time for a newly constructed wheelchair-accessible home could be up to 47 years for someone who joins a local waiting list.
16-year-old Finlay of Chester can’t get his wheelchair to fit through his bedroom doorway. Usually, he gets stuck and relies on his mother to help him. Because this has happened so many times before, the plaster on the wall is cracking. The house is not wheelchair accessible. The family is waiting for a council grant to adapt it. In the meantime, with no downstairs bathroom, Finlay has to use the bathroom in the kitchen. He uses a commode chair which offers him no privacy whatsoever.
Unfortunately, there is a lack of accessible housing in The United States as well. For most of his life, Erica Chance carried her 5-year-old son Ayden up and down the stairs of their two-story apartment. The family needed a location that could accommodate Ayden’s wheelchair and a bed that was being made specifically for him because his seizures occasionally led to him falling out of his plastic Paw Patrol bed. Erica Chance applied for an accessible unit with the DC Housing Authority (DCHA) when Ayden was a toddler. In 2019, the family finally moved into an accessible apartment.
In February 2020, Apartment List conducted a study using data from the American Community Survey and the American Housing Survey. The study found that only 9% of households with a disabled member live in an accessible home. In addition, 6% of homes in the United States are accessible. However, more than 15% of households include a physically disabled member.
Housing is essential for everybody. People with disabilities deserve to live somewhere that meets their needs. Accessible housing helps disabled people have greater independence and the opportunity to live the life they envision for themselves.
Acosta, Sonya, and Erik Gartland. “Families Wait Years for Housing Vouchers Due to Inadequate Funding.” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 22 July 2021, https://www.cbpp.org/research/housing/families-wait-years-for-housing-vouchers-due-to-inadequate-funding.
Barry, Rebecca. “Lack of Wheelchair-Accessible Housing Forces Man to Live in Parents’ Shed.” ITV News, ITV PLC, 21 Oct. 2022, https://www.itv.com/news/2022-10-21/lack-of-wheelchair-accessible-housing-forces-man-to-live-in-parents-shed.
Roberts, Hannah. “Failings Left Disabled Berkshire Woman Eating, Sleeping and Washing in One Room.” BerkshireLive, Reach PLC , 3 Nov. 2022, https://www.getreading.co.uk/news/reading-berkshire-news/disabled-slough-woman-forced-eat-25422900.
Theil, Michele. “A Shortage of Accessible Housing Is Affecting Disabled People.” EachOther, EachOther, 23 Feb. 2022, https://eachother.org.uk/shortage-accessible-housing-disability-rights/.
Vargas, Theresa. “ Behind a Lawsuit, an Excruciating Wait for Housing for Disabled Residents.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 22 June 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2022/06/22/disabled-dc-residents-housing-wait/.
Warnock, Rob. “How Accessible Is the Housing Market?” Apartment List , Apartment List, 19 February, 2020, http://www.apartmentlist.com/research/how-accessible-is-the-housing-market.