Campaigners are calling on authorities to fast-track applications for social housing for Bahrainis with special needs.
There are around 60,000 people on the Housing Ministry’s list with many families having to wait up to 20 years for a home, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Bahrain Mobility International (BMI) has been campaigning for years to reduce the waiting time for people with disabilities, and its board chairman Adel Sultan Al Mutawa said they have recently received nearly a dozen complaints.
“People with disabilities must be prioritised over others because they sometimes don’t have much to do to improve their living conditions,” he told the GDN.
“The BMI along with other centres and societies has earlier discussed the issue with the Housing Ministry but it has been five years since we’ve told them about the situation and nothing has changed.”
Among those who have approached the society for help was Bahraini Nabeel Hamad Al Doseri, a polio patient with an underdeveloped leg.
The 33-year-old, who works as a co-ordinator at the Information Affairs Authority, lives in a small room with his wife and his one-year-old son in a house in Muharraq, which is also occupied by his mother and two aunts.
“I have a challenged life and I know I can live my life just like any person who doesn’t have a physical disability,” he told the GDN.
“Nothing can stop me from progressing in my career and achieving my dreams, but the government also has to ease life for us since we are challenging our disability.
“At work I am standing for hours and when I go back home I need to move around in a wheelchair which I cannot do because there is no space at all.
“Even using it to move from one room to another is difficult because the house is old and small and other people live there too.
“Also, the room is too small to accommodate me, my wife and my child.”
However, the ministry told the GDN people with disabilities have to wait just as long as other applicants, except for special cases of people with extremely difficult living or health conditions.
“There are no waiting lists for disabled people and they are treated just like other applicants, with priority to those applying first,” read a statement.
“However, some special humanitarian cases are reviewed by the housing committee and the procedures are studied for each case.”
Once a family receives a government home, the ministry will build special facilities to cater to the needs of disabled tenants.
“There are no special units for disabled people but after receiving the unit, whether a house or a flat, they can apply for modifications that suit the disability they suffer from,” said the statement.
“The ministry reviews their case and redesigns the unit.”
The GDN earlier reported on plans to build facilities in government units for disabled residents such as special toilets, kitchens, doorknobs and lighting, among others.
The ministry previously protested that the plan would hinder its efforts to tackle a housing backlog, but the Shura Council approved urgent amendments to the Housing Law.
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