The Cyprus disabled persons confederation reacted negatively to a proposed state housing project saying it contradicts the ethos of integration.
The council of ministers on Tuesday, gave the green light for round-the-clock care units to be created for adults with disabilities, to be financed through the government’s recovery and resilience scheme.
The units are to be built by the Cyprus Land Development Corporation (Koag) and purchased by the department of social integration of persons with disabilities.
Two of them are projected to be built in Kokkinotrimithia and three in Polemidia.
“The goal is to create small structures so as to accommodate as few people as possible to avoid institutionalisation, and to provide quality services that will promote their integration into society,” the deputy minister said.
Head of the disabled persons confederation (Kysoa) Christakis Nicolaides, however, criticised the plan as oxymoronic.
He denounced government policies as entrenching institutionalisation by recommending-or even imposing-confinement on disabled people, in the name of providing care.
What is required instead, Nicolaides argued was “[To effect] a transition from institutional care to care-in-the-community through provision of adequate housing and socio-economic support.”
Such a plan, Nicolaides said, would offer “choices equal to others” and receive appropriate funding to facilitate full integration and participation of disabled persons in community life.
In statements to the Cyprus News Agency, Nicolaides said Kysoa demands the planning and implementation of an adequately funded strategy which safeguards the rights of citizens to live in the wider community.
The spokesman added that genuine integration and independence can only be brought about as a result of policies determined in close consultation with disabled persons’ organisations.
Confining the disabled to segregated closed structures, such as the ones proposed, Nicolaides noted, leaves citizens with disabilities vulnerable to multiple risk factors, including “social isolation, humiliation, poverty, exclusion, marginalisation, and even death,”.
Moreover, the disabled would effectively be forced to live with others against their will, deprived of the right to control their lives, the Kysoa head said.
Meanwhile, the ministry of the interior on Friday issued an announcement stating that it intends to proceed with further affordable housing plans in Limassol, as this is a top priority of the state.
“The ministry of the interior expresses its clear intention to proceed, as has been announced, with the implementation of the plan to build affordable housing in the municipality of Limassol by the Cyprus Land Development Organization (Koag).
The project is one of the main pillars of the new integrated housing policy being formulated by the ministries of the interior and finance to support [the] socio-economically vulnerable and will be announced in the coming weeks,” the statement concluded.
For his part, Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou said the Cyprus Land Development Organisation was asked to submit a comprehensive plan for all the actions being taken as to account “for the taxpayer’s money”. He said there was a “misjudgement” in the summer, when a proposal was submitted for the construction of the houses at a cost of €20 million.
In his statements, Nicolaides cautioned that the pitfalls of a policy of segregation from the wider community applies not only to the physically disabled, but to a broad segment of society, including those living with mental illness, children and the elderly.