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Last updateSun, 06 Nov 2016 10am

Back You are here: Home Entitlements Entitlements Housing Housing Options

Housing Options

Today many disability organisations are promoting the idea of independent living. This means giving people with a disability a choice in where and how they live and making sure there are enough accessible buildings and enough support mechanisms to allow people to live as independently as they choose.

Residential Care

What: The Cheshire Foundation in Ireland is an organisation concerned with accommodation for people with a physical disability. Currently they offer two choices of accommodation for people:
The first choice is for people to live together in one of the Cheshire homes or projects. Each person usually has their own room and makes decisions on the decorating of that room and so on. Residents may live as independently as they choose. Support is provided by staff employed by the Cheshire Foundation.
The second option is for people to live within the Cheshire organisation in semi-independent apartments.
These are self contained units where people live as independently as they choose. Two or three people are employed by the Cheshire Foundation to provide support and residents of the apartments may avail of any other support services available, e.g. services provided by the health boards.

Who: Over 250 people live within the Cheshire Foundation.

Where: There are 12 Cheshire projects in Ireland.

How: Contact the Cheshire Foundation in Ireland for further information.

Training for Independent Living

What: The Irish Wheelchair Association has independent living apartments which they rent to people with a physical disability. Tenants rent the apartments for about six months to a year and use that time to learn all the skills they need to live independently. An Occupational Therapist works with them to identify any aids and appliances the person will require for independent living. While staying at the apartments, tenants pay rent and bills. They may receive any benefits they are entitled to, e.g. the Disability Allowance, as well as any support services provided in the community, such as home help, etc.

Who: Anyone with a physical disability who is hoping to live independently can apply for an apartment.

Where: There are five apartments in Dublin, twelve in Kilkenny, four in Galway and one in Athy, Co. Kildare. The Irish Wheelchair Association is hoping to open more.

How: To apply for an apartment or for further information, contact the Irish Wheelchair Association.

What: This hospital has a 'transition unit' where people with a disability and their family members can go to get advice and training to help them manage at home.

Who: This service is available to people with a physical disability being discharged from the hospital.

Where: The hospital and unit are located in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.

How: Contact the National Rehabilitation Hospital for details.

Renting Where You Live

Renting is often the preferred choice for people looking to move out on their own for the first time as there is no need to have savings or to arrange for a mortgage and tenants do not have to take responsibility for repairs and maintenance.

There ore a number of options open to people looking to rent accommodation:

Private accommodation
Local authority accommodation
Voluntary housing accommodation
What: When you rent accommodation from a private owner, you enter into a leasing agreement which sets out all the conditions you and the landlord have agreed to. This will include the length of time you are renting the property for, what you are renting (rooms, furniture, etc.) and how much rent you pay. Landlords and tenants are both protected by a series of laws.

How: Finding a suitable, affordable place to rent is often a difficult task and it can be twice as hard if you are looking for a wheelchair accessible house or flat, particularly at the lower end of the market. Experience shows that perseverance does pay off, so keep searching.
Private accommodation to rent is advertised in the local and national papers. Ads are often placed on notice boards and windows in local shops too. Letting agents will find accommodation for you - some of them may charge for this but others will not, so it's worthwhile shopping around.
For a list of letting agents in your area, turn to the Golden Pages - they are listed under Auctioneers, Estate Agents and Valuers
Threshold is a voluntary organisation funded by the Department of the Environment and Local Government to provide free and impartial housing advice to landlords and tenants on rented accommodation. Citizens Information Centres also have plenty of information on this subject.

What: Local authorities (e.g. Corporation or County Council) will provide rented accommodation to people who cannot afford to rent or purchase private property.
If you are accepted for local authority housing, your name will be placed somewhere on a waiting list. When a house becomes available it is offered to the person or family at the top of the list. Your position on the list depends on how badly in need of accommodation you are, in the opinion of the local authority Housing Officer.

Who: When deciding who should get a local authority house, a number of factors are taken into consideration. These include:
- the number of people in the household
- the total income of the household
- the state of the present accommodation (if any)
- any 'special circumstances' including disability, age, medical conditions
Once accommodation has been found for you, an amount of rent that you can afford to pay each month will be decided by the local authority. You must let them know immediately if your income changes and you cannot afford to pay them or, indeed, if you can afford to pay more.

How: Most houses and flats, including local authority houses, are not built to be wheelchair accessible so it may take longer to find a suitable place. Local authorities often only build accessible houses to meet a specific demand so if you decide you will need one let them know as soon as possible. Write letters and contact your local TDs. Lobbying and persistence pays off.

Contact your local authority for further information and for an application form. A Citizens Information Centre should be able to give lots of information on this subject.

What: Voluntary housing organisations provide rented accommodation to specific categories of people including people with disabilities. Since 1991 the Government has given financial assistance, through local authorities, to approved voluntary organisations to help them provide housing for people.
There are two schemes which receive assistance from local government:
Capital Assistance Scheme which provides accommodation to meet special housing requirements such as those of people with a disability;
Rent Subsidy Scheme which provides housing particularly for low income families.

Who: Each voluntary organisation decides who they will provide housing for, how long each household may rent for and how much rent they will pay. Rent is set at what the organisation knows the tenant can afford.

The following voluntary organisations have wheelchair accessible housing:
Focus Housing
Salvation Army
Tullamore Housing Association
Women's Aid

Other voluntary housing organisations may also supply or may consider supplying housing for people with disabilities.

How: It is always worthwhile talking to housing associations about the kind of accommodation you are looking for. Contact any of the above for information, especially about their own accommodation. You can get general information on housing associations from the Irish Council for Social Housing.

Buying Your Own Place

Although many of us dream of owning our own home, house and apartment prices are very high and most of us need to borrow a lot of money in order to buy anything.

There are three basic loan options:

- Private loan - usually from a Bank or Building Society
- Local Authority Loan
- Shared Ownership Mortgage

What: Banks and Building Societies lend people sums of money to help them purchase a home. The homeowner then pays them back in monthly instalments, with interest, over a long period of time - usually 25 years or more.

Who: Each institution decides who it will lend money to, but the following general points usually apply
- you will need to have savings of a few thousand pounds before you will be considered for a loan
- if you are successful in your application for a loan you will usually be given two to two and a half times your gross income
- if there are two earners in the household, you will be given twice the higher income plus one time the lower income
- you can normally borrow between 75-90% of the cost of the property you want to buy
You should always bear in mind that if you do not make your monthly repayments you may lose your home.

How: Talk to as many banks and building societies as possible to find out who has the best deal to suit your needs. A Citizens Information Centre will be able to give more information.

What: Your local authority may give you a loan to buy a private house or, if you are a local authority tenant, the house you are renting from them.

Who: The following conditions apply
- you must have been refused a loan in writing from both a bank and a building society
- if your sole income is from a social welfare payment it is very unlikely that you will be offered a loan
- you must earn below a certain amount unless you are on a waiting list to rent a local authority house or you are already renting a local authority house or voluntary association house and you plan to return it to the organisation when you buy your new home
- if you are a tenant of a local authority house and want to buy it, you will also get a discount of 3% off the market price of the house plus a further ¬ 3,809.21/£3,000 off for every year that you have been renting your house up to a maximum of 10 years

How: Contact your local authority housing department for further details and application forms.

What: In this scheme, you can take out a mortgage on a percentage of a property while the local authority buys the remainder. You then pay back a part of the mortgage plus rent on the local authority's share every month. This is less expensive than a bank/building society mortgage.
You must pay at least 40% of the cost of the house (you may apply for a loan to do this) and the local authority pays the remaining cost, up to 60%. The local authority will decide on the price of the house you can afford to buy.
Within 25 years you must pay off your mortgage and buy off the local authority's share. You can get another loan to do this or you can increase the percentage of the house you own over the years.

Who: The following conditions apply
- you must earn below a certain amount unless you are on a waiting list to rent a local authority house or you are already renting a local authority house or voluntary association house and you plan to return it to the organisation when you buy your new home
- you must normally make a down payment of ¬ 1,269.74/£1,000 to the local authority at the beginning of the mortgage. However, if you are moving from an urban area to a rural area and returning the house you are renting to the local authority you do not have to pay the ¬ 1,269.74/£1,000.

How: Contact your local authority housing department for further details and application forms.

What: This is an allowance of ¬ 5,713.82/£4,500 given by local authorities to help people buy or build a private house. The money is paid directly to the agency you have your mortgage or loan with (e.g. bank, local authority etc.). It is paid over five years which means that for that period of time your monthly repayments are reduced.

Who: To be eligible for this allowance you must be:
- a tenant of a local authority house or
- a tenant of a voluntary association house under the Rental Subsidy Scheme

How: Contact your local authority housing department for further information and application forms.

Further Reading

The Department of the Environment and Local Government have recently produced a series of 11 housing information leaflets that deal in detail with many of the options covered in this booklet.

These are available, free of charge, from the Government Publications Sales Office, the Department of Environment and Local Government or your local authority.

Further Help

This last section gives you details on where to go for further information or help on anything you have read about in this booklet. Addresses together with telephone and fax numbers (where available) are given for every organisation mentioned and there is a short note on the services these organisations provide.

Only the addresses of government department headquarters are given in this booklet, but there may be a regional office located nearer to where you live. You can check this in your local telephone directory. This directory will also contain the address and telephone number of your Health Board, your nearest health centre and your local authority. All this information will be found in the green-edged pages that are at the beginning of the directory. Other organisations which are listed in this booklet may also have regional offices nearer your home. Again, you can check this in the telephone directory (in the main part of it) or by contacting them at the address given here.

If you need help finding an address or telephone number, contact Directory Enquiries by telephoning 11811. Eircom has special services for people with physical and sensory disabilities. For more information, phone them free of charge on 1901.

Finally, if you need information on any subject, including more details on anything you have read about in this booklet you should contact your nearest Citizens Information Centre (CIC). These are located in over 80 places in Ireland and provide free, confidential and impartial information on any subject to anyone who makes a request.

Anyone who makes an enquiry can be assured that they are in no danger of losing any benefits by doing so. Staff can fill in forms or telephone government departments if you want them to. You do not have to make an appointment to visit them. There is a mobile service for people who cannot easily gain access to a CIC.

You will find the address and telephone number of your nearest Centre in the Golden Pages or local telephone directory. They are listed under 'Citizens Information Centres'.

The subjects CICs. have information on include:

  • social welfare
  • health services
  • taxation
  • housing and a range of benefits and entitlements

Centre for Independent Focus Housing Association
Living Housing Division
Carmichael House Stanhope Green
North Brunswick Street Stanhope Street
Dublin 7 Dublin 7
Tel. 01 873 0455 Tel 01 671 1219
Works to promote independent living Fax 01 677 8563
for people with disabilities Voluntary housing association

Cheshire Foundation in Focus Ireland
Ireland 14A Eustace Street
1-4,Adelaide Road Dublin 2
Glasthule Tel: 01 671 2555
Co. Dublin Fax: 01 679 6843
Tel: 01 280 4879 Advice and information -
Fax: 0 1 280 4954 homelessness & poverty
Provides accommodation for people
with disabilities
Government Publications
Sales Office
Department of the Molesworth Street
Environment and Local Dublin 2
Government Tel: 01 661 3111
Housing Division Fax: 01 475 2760
Custom House Orders by telephone or fax.
Dublin 1 Catalogue available
Tel: 01 679 3377
Fax: 01 874 2710
HAIL Ltd. Housing Association
59 Dame Street
Housing Grants Dublin 2
Government Buildings Tel: 01 671 8444
Ballina Fax. 01 670 3265
Co. Mayo Voluntary housing association
Tel: 096 70 677
Fax: 096 70 680

Church Road
Co. Dublin
Voluntary housing association

Irish Council for Social Housing
The Housing Centre
50 Merrion Square
Dublin 2
Tel: 01 661 8334 Fax: 01 661 4462
Represents over 70 voluntary and housing associations. Information, advice & training

Irish Wheelchair Association
Aras Chuchulain
Blackheath Drive
Dublin 3
Tel: 01 833 8241 Fax: 01 833 3873
National organisation dedicated to the achievement of full social, economic and educational integration of people with disability as equal, independent and participative members within the general community

National Rehabilitation Hospital
Rochestown Avenue
Dun Laoghaire
Co. Dublin
Tel: 01 285 4777 Fax: 01 285 1053
Rehabilitation hospital including spinal injury

National Social Services Board
Hume House
Dublin 4
Tel: 01 605 9000 Fax: 01 605 9099
Provides information on state services including the development of the social Citizens Information Database and a network of Citizens Information Centres nationwide

Respond - Waterford
Luke House
Alexander Street
Tel.. 051 876865 Fax: 051 8795359

Respond - Dublin
All Hallows College
Dublin 9
Tel: 01 857 2020 Fax: 01 857 2066
Anti-poverty agency- housing, etc.

Salvation Army
114 Marlborough Street
Dublin 1
Tel: 01 874 0987
Christian organisation - housing, etc.

Sonas Housing Association
8 Gardiner Place
Dublin 1
Tel: 01 874 5217 Fax: 01 874 5155
Voluntary housing association

Threshold - Cork
8 Fr Matthew Quay
Tel: 021 271 250

Threshold - Dublin
Dublin Advice Office (No drop-in service)
13 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1
Tel: (01) 872 6311 Fax: (01) 872 6063
Head office,
6 Harbour House,
Western Way,
Phibsborough, Dublin 7
Tel: (01) 874 9750

Threshold - Galway
Ozanam House
St Augustine Street
Tel: 091 563 080
Free and impartial housing advice

Tullamore Housing Association
c/o 4 O'Carroll Street
Co. Offaly
Voluntary housing association


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