Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 4 July 2019
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government
Housing for People with a Disability: Discussion
One would listen to Miriam anyway, that is for sure. Her email handle is "murphyinmotion".
I also recall my mother's experience in having to retrofit her 1960s house. There is no point denying that the combination of living with and working closely with someone with a disability changes one's mindset and how one thinks, because it does. Ms Murphy had a huge role to play when she sat on the board of Wicklow County Tourism. She brought a disabled perspective to the whole tourism industry in Wicklow and it is now feeding down into our tourism plan, which considers people with disabilities. My mother is very proud of the home she lives in. She now has to negotiate a wheelchair through narrow doors which is causing the paint to come off. I know this is upsetting her but she will not show it. Those are practical things and when one lives through them, it makes a difference in how one thinks. I want to put that on record because people who do not live with these things do not routinely think of them.
As the owner of an old hotel built in the 1820s, which I have extended, I know the difference between trying to retrofit something and designing with disability in mind.
One accessible toilet could be put in the 1800s building or ten could put in for the same cost when designing with a new build in mind. There was a figure of approximately €4,500 to try to put into the design of a house some features that would make it more livable for a person with a disability. What percentage of our housing stock has had to be adapted overall? Would the €4,500 be an extra burden or would it amount to a long-term saving in the context of the housing stock? There are no two ways about it because designing a new build with these features makes the process much easier and cheaper, ultimately delivering a better result.
Mr. Cunningham stated that we should design 7% of our housing stock for people with disabilities and Ms Barron indicated that nearly 13% of people on lower incomes or the social housing list have such needs. The private sector proportion is 8%. Is the 7% figure too low? Should we aim for a higher percentage?