Black and minority ethnic disabled and D/deaf people face a distinct combination of barriers and difficulties which will only be resolved if specific action is taken:
Advocacy from workers and organisations can help overcome some of the challenges faced by black and minority ethnic disabled and D/deaf people.
Practices to encourage effective communication help black and minority ethnic disabled and D/deaf people to highlight their housing needs, and come up with solutions to the problems they face. However, many participants had doubts as to whether workers understand service users’ needs.
While new initiatives, such as choice-based lettings, can extend choice and control, it appears questionable whether black and minority ethnic disabled and D/deaf people will benefit equally to able-bodied tenants. A lack of suitable housing in preferred areas meant that participants faced overcrowded conditions or inappropriate homes. Some participants had turned down structurally suitable properties that isolated them from friends, family, or places of worship.
Many participants believed that racism contributed to their poor experiences, especially when combined with discrimination based upon their disability. Some participants felt that expectations about what is meant by ‘disabled’ (i.e. wheelchair use) led to discrimination. Evidence also emerged that a narrow or ‘medical’ model of disability is being used when conducting assessments.
Effective assessment, which allows service users to articulate their needs and negotiate a shared view of necessary support, appeared to be a matter of luck rather than design. Delays in needs assessment and service provision was often a cause of frustration.
- Adaptations and equipment
The limited number of new build properties that meet the Lifetime Homes and Wheelchair user homes standard meant led to an emphasis on adaptations and equipment. Confusion between housing associations and local housing departments over payments for adaptations was common, even though Government guidance is clear on this matter.
- Support needs
Discussions focused upon support as well as housing needs, including:
- Help with cooking and cleaning
- Personal care issues, such as washing or accessing the bathroom
- Accessing benefits or paid work
- Transportation needs (particularly with shopping)
- Access to religious events and venues.
- Positive experiences
Some participants described positive experiences, although these often required significant effort by them and/or their carers.