This article in Cogitatio thematic journal, Home, Housing and Communities: Foundations for Inclusive Society, by the University of Stirling, highlights that appropriate housing is a key element of independent living for disabled people.
The article examines access to social rented housing as a route to independent living, through a study of lettings practice for accessible and adapted homes. Drawing on the social and social-relational models of disability, the study adopted a disabled-led, co-production approach. Qualitative research methods were used to compare social landlord practice and track home seeker/tenant experiences.
While housing providers were proactive in reviewing policy and practice to better meet the housing needs of disabled people, there remained some ‘distance’ between landlord goals and applicant experiences. Disabled people’s extended lived experience of inappropriate housing, while waiting for a more accessible home, impacted negatively on their quality of life and physical and mental health. Social lettings policies and practice were necessarily complex, but often difficult for applicants to understand. The complexity of disabled people’s housing needs meant that the matching process for suitable housing was also complex, often requiring individualised solutions.
Recommendations to improve practice include making better use of technology to improve data on accessible/adapted properties and applicant needs; flexibility in lettings practice to facilitate effective matches; and flexibility in fully recognising disabled people’s housing and independent living needs. Social rented housing remains an important mechanism for achieving disabled people’s independence. Explicit recognition of the social-relational interpretation of disability could deliver more inclusive lettings practice and achieve more sustainable tenancies.