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The ‘other’ hidden housing crisis

by Susan Johnson, Commissioner

Published: 11 May 2018

Finding a home to live in is a notoriously stressful business – some say it’s more demanding than divorce and bankruptcy. Generally the advice is to find a property in the best location. But what happens if your minimum criteria include an accessible bathroom, a ramp or a handrail?

How easy would it be for you to find a property to rent or buy? Or imagine a situation where the house you have loved living in for most of your adult life suddenly becomes a health hazard as you become disabled following a car accident.  

This is the challenge facing thousands of disabled people in Britain today and one that we could all face tomorrow, as the number of people with life-long conditions increases year after year.

You are unlikely to read about this housing crisis in the papers.

During the course of our inquiry, we have heard some harrowing stories such as:

  • people being stuck in their flat for years, only getting outside when a relative comes to bump their wheelchair down the stairs
  • young people who have been diagnosed with degenerative conditions being placed in old people’s homes against their will
  • people being forced to eat, sleep and live in one room, with no access to a bathroom and loved ones carrying family members up and down stairs

You are unlikely to read about this housing crisis in the papers. But you may well know someone who has been battling their way through their local council’s convoluted process to get a simple handrail or ramp fitted in their home. Or perhaps someone with a mental health condition who has failed their tenancy and subsequently become homeless because they struggled to deal with managing their finances.

We want to see disabled people treated with the same dignity and respect as everyone else so they can be part of the community, go to work, access education, enjoy a social life and realise their right to independent living.

Please read our report and recommendations to government and local authorities, which, if acted upon, will ensure all disabled people who want to live in homes that meet their needs can do so.

Change is possible but we need to act now.

You can share your experiences of finding accessible housing or getting adaptations by using #lifehacks (Twitter, opens in new window) and #hiddenhousingcrisis (Twitter, opens in new window).