Fingal County Council has launched an innovative new strategy for housing that aims to provide people with disabilities better opportunities and foster a more inclusive community. The approach not only prioritises accessibility but also recognises the importance of creating environments that promote independence, equality, and integration for all residents.
Individuals with disabilities – be it mental, sensory, intellectual, or physical – regularly face numerous challenges in finding suitable housing options that meet their specific needs. However, Fingal believes that the forward-thinking approach – which was produced in collaboration with disability advocates, representative organisations and individual clients – will help to break down many of these barriers.
Launching the strategy, Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Howard Mahony said, “I am proud to launch this strategy which I believe will help secure a better housing experience for those with a disability and further empower them to live the life they want to lead. It is a really important collaborative piece of work that brings increased opportunities for independence and supports the physical, mental and emotional well-being needs of people.”
Key elements of the new housing strategy include:
- Universal Accessibility: All housing units should be appropriately designed and future proofed with universal accessibility in mind, particularly in the planning stages of new housing developments. This means incorporating features such as wider doorways, ramps, elevators, and accessible bathrooms to ensure individuals with disabilities can navigate their homes with ease and dignity. By eliminating physical barriers, we are promoting independence and empowering residents to live with greater freedom and autonomy.
- Integrated Communities: Our strategy encourages the development of integrated communities where individuals with disabilities live alongside their peers without disabilities and ensuring personal supports are in place for people transitioning congregated type settings into locations of peoples choosing, close to services, public transport etc. This integration allows individuals with disabilities to become active participants in community life, breaking down stereotypes and building stronger, more cohesive neighbourhoods.
- Supportive Services: Recognising that some individuals with disabilities may require additional support, our strategy looks to ensure that adequate support services are available for people who need them. These services can include personalised care plans, assistance with daily living activities, and access to healthcare resources.
By incorporating these facets into its housing strategy, the approach in Fingal will help provide residents with the tools they need to live independently and pursue their goals. Alongside this, the steering group who developed the strategy believe that this commitment will create a living environment that enables people with disabilities to flourish and actively participate in their local communities.
Chief Executive of Fingal County Council, AnnMarie Farrelly, said, “the benefits of this strategy extend far beyond the individuals directly impacted. By embracing inclusive housing, we are nurturing a more diverse and dynamic community that thrives on the strength of its inclusivity.”
Barry Raleigh, Housing Support Coordinator at Avista, a key partner in developing the strategy said, “this goes some way to providing information that’s open and clear and transparent for individuals with a disability. It means that people are no longer being pushed over to one side, that they’re not being confined to living within a congregated setting and gives them an opportunity to integrate into society on a daily basis.”
The importance of inclusive housing cannot be overstated. By creating accessible and supportive living spaces, we are offering individuals with disabilities the opportunity to live independently, with dignity, and to actively participate in all aspects of community life. This joint strategy represents a significant stride towards dismantling barriers and embracing diversity, as we work together to foster an inclusive society that values every individual.
Fingal’s Director of Housing and Communities, Robert Burns said, “this new approach will not only provide better opportunities for individuals with disabilities, but it will also enhance the fabric of our local communities. Our new strategy is thanks to close collaboration with local stakeholders whose expertise and invaluable insights have helped us to strengthen the principles of inclusivity, equality, and accessibility. By engaging with these key partners we can create a future where everyone can thrive and where every individual has the opportunity to live a life filled with dignity, independence, and meaningful connections.”
Recognising the fundamental importance of accessible and supportive housing, the comprehensive strategy addresses the unique housing requirements of people with disabilities. By championing the provision of inclusive and accessible housing options, the strategy looks to deliver a range of substantial benefits to both individuals and the wider community.
Another collaborator on the strategy, Anne O’Brien, the Housing Compliance & Tenancy Support Manager at St Michael’s House, said, “engaging with all of the stakeholders involved has been very beneficial, and has allowed us to advocate on behalf of our service users. For people to have a choice as to what their future looks like will help open up huge opportunities for all of the individuals that we provide support for, allowing them to be part of the community they live in and to have real control over their future.”
This is a belief shared by Tom Gifford, Project Lead at Housing Association for Integrated Living (HAIL), “the strategy is a big step forward that creates a very thoughtful plan to increase housing opportunities for people with disabilities. It has come about thanks to a really dynamic partnership of different stakeholder groups working together with Fingal County Council to try to improve housing outcomes. Housing really is the cornerstone of enabling people’s journey of recovery, allowing them to integrate into the community – this strategy is a vital part of that process.”
Source: Fingal County Council