Individuals with disabilities are often stuck on waiting lists for housing from municipalities for years on end, with little or no information about their status, RÚV reports. Þroskahjáp (Iceland’s National Association of People with Intellectual Disabilities) says that this uncertainty weighs heavily, not least because of the high cost of rent.
A call for increased transparency
This week, spokespersons for Þroskahjáp (Iceland’s National Association of People with Intellectual Disabilities) told RÚV that it was necessary for local authorities to increase transparency when allocating housing to people with disabilities. According to Þroskahjálp, there have been instances in which people with intellectual disabilities have been kept waiting for up to a decade for suitable housing. During this time, they receive limited information about the status of their applications.
As noted by RÚV, the Minister of Social Affairs signed regulations on improving services for people with disabilities nearly five years ago. One of the things that the new regulation was supposed to ensure was that the waiting lists for housing would be shortened and that people with disabilities who require long-term support would be afforded the opportunity to decide where they live.
The situation on waiting lists, however, seems to have improved little in recent years. Anna Margrét Hrólfsdóttir, Þroskahjáp’s Public Relations Officer, told RÚV that still to this day it was not uncommon for their clients to spend years on waiting lists.
Uncertain of their place on waiting lists
“Oftentimes, the feeling is that these allocations are almost arbitrary. Living with this uncertainty can be incredibly challenging,” Anna stated. “These people don’t know where they are on the waiting list, nor what the rules are for housing allocation.”
According to Anna, it’s usually the family members who meet the obligations of the municipalities. People with disabilities, like everyone else, find it difficult to have to live with their parents well into adulthood. Their possibilities in the general rental market have long been limited but especially now that rental prices have skyrocketed all over the country: “Which makes it even more urgent for the local authorities to live up to their obligations.”
Anna also observed that Þroskahjálp is pinning its hopes on efforts in the development of housing by local authorities and the positive steps have been taken in the last few decades. On the other hand, there has been some alarming rhetoric from local government officials recently, regarding how costly it is to secure housing for people with disabilities: “Naturally, it’s troubling to see something that we consider as a human right being referred to as a ‘burden and a cost.’”