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Mentally ill face extra barriers in getting housed
Pic: RollingNews.ie

16 Feb 2023 / IRELAND Print

Mentally ill facing extra barriers in getting housed

Mercy Law Resource Centre’s report on mental-health and housing supports has been launched by Mary Butler (Minister of State at the Department of Health).

The backdrop to the report is that national statistics show that since 2016, among social-housing allocations based on disability, the share attributed to mental-health difficulties grew from 16% to 24%. 

Together, intellectual and mental-health disabilities now account for the largest category of disability recorded on social-housing waiting lists.

The report incorporates the results of a survey of people with mental-health and housing needs, and frontline workers who support them, which finds that all respondents believe that people with mental-health difficulties face barriers when trying to access social-housing supports.

Almost 90% of respondents believe that these barriers extend to people with mental-health difficulties seeking access to emergency homeless accommodation.

These findings reflect the casework experience of the Mercy Law Resource Centre (MLRC).

The report analyses the survey results and MLRC’s casework experience against the legal and policy framework, and makes practical recommendations for change.

The report’s recommendations include:

  • Improving the supply of housing suitable to different mental-health needs,
  • More training for staff involved in the provision of social-housing supports and emergency accommodation,
  • Revisions to applicable laws and procedures, and
  •  A clear procedure for recognising mental-health needs in respect of emergency homeless accommodation.

Managing Solicitor Aoife Kelly-Desmond said: “A recurring theme in the report is that where housing services are trained and resourced to understand and respond to different mental-health needs, people feel more supported, and outcomes are improved. 

“Conversely, rigid procedures, lack of staff training, stigma and siloing of services compound to create real barriers.”

Human need

Housing was a fundamental human need, and a lack of suitable housing could heighten mental-health difficulties, the solicitor said.

Delayed hospital discharges, where people deemed clinically well were forced to remain in in-patient mental-health treatment due to lack of housing, were another area of concern.

The MLRC report identifies barriers, and gives recommendations for changes to the law and administrative practices in relation to the provision of social housing and emergency homeless accommodation.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland