Research Student: Laura Hemingway
Disability and Housing: home, housing options and access to owner-occupation
Housing is often an area in which disabled people are forced to confront barriers and constraints. Inaccessible dwellings compromise disabled people’s independence, as do the environments outside their homes, and features of the houses of families and friends.
At the same time, although owning one's dwelling has become almost a standard expectation for citizens, this is another dimension of housing in which disabled people may encounter obstacles.
Whilst there has been a heightened interest in the broad topic area of disability and housing in recent years, issues related to owner-occupation, access to it, and financial resources related to sustaining it remain under-explored. The issue is not so much about whether someone chooses to own their dwelling, but whether that element of choice is available.
This research explores disabled people's relationship with housing, including ideas about the meaning of 'home' and the importance of, and access to, home ownership.
It focuses especially on barriers or discrimination that disabled people may encounter within financial services when applying for a mortgage. This includes access to life insurance, income issues, benefits and so forth, and the support available to disabled mortgage seekers within estate agencies, building societies and the housing industry generally.
The research adopts an approach committed to the social model of disability, which acknowledges that disabled people can be prevented from ensuring a reasonable quality of life for themselves as a consequence of the constant presence of barriers and constraints socially, economically and environmentally. These barriers prevent people with impairments from participating in mainstream society.
By exploring physical, attitudinal, communication and financial constraints to home ownership for disabled people, and documenting ways in which these might be removed, this research hopes to be used in a purposeful way to develop changes to a potentially oppressive process.