Edinburgh man Cal Grevers with muscular dystrophy calls on council to stop selling off accessible homes

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An Edinburgh man with muscular dystrophy who crowdfunded money to buy his own flat has called on the council to stop selling off accessible homes and warned the move is a ‘backwards step’.

Calum Grevers raised £52,000 from the public for a deposit and adaptations after a powerful campaign highlighting the difficulties those in wheelchairs face when trying to find a home.

Thanks to the crowdfunder he had an offer accepted for a 25 per cent share of a housing association flat in the Gorgie area.

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Speaking to the Evening News ahead of the move to his own place this month, Calum said he’s excited to finally achieve his dream.

Calum Grevers struggled to find a council home suitable for his needsCalum Grevers struggled to find a council home suitable for his needs
Calum Grevers struggled to find a council home suitable for his needs

But he said not much has changed for disabled people in Edinburgh and has urged council chiefs to rethink the practice of selling off ground floor properties.

Now he is determined to keep fighting to raise awareness of the barriers disabled people face when trying to live independently.

The 29-year-old wanted to move out of his parents’ home but was told he faced a three year waiting list for a suitable council house.

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Calum Grevers who has muscular dystrophy speaks out about fight to find accessib...

He said: “There is already a serious lack of available homes and a two to three year wait to get one. Not enough new ones are being built to compensate for the current shortage. The council should keep as many as they can. Selling them off seems like a backwards step. They also need to build new ones.

"Not having the right house to meet your needs affects every area of your life, from your work to your mental health. In Edinburgh, people are frozen out of the private market due to the high costs and lack of accessible properties. They end up having to move away from the area they grew up in so lose their support network of family and friends.

“I came up against barriers at every turn to get a council home and then again under the first time buyers scheme until I decided I couldn’t wait any longer and found an alternative way.

“It’s all very well for decision makers to say disabled people deserve dignity and choice. But Edinburgh is a long way off from that. The numbers of accessible homes just isn't there. The council should look at this again and keep what they can.”

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Lothians MSP Miles Briggs has written to the chief executive of the council raising concerns about the practice of selling off accessible homes.

He asked for the sale of a ground floor flat in Ferry Road Avenue to be stopped but was told it would be disposed off because it was the last council owned property in a block of six.

Under the wider asset management strategy the council has a policy to ‘consolidate’ blocks through selling homes in minority owned blocks.

Council chiefs claim this will create greater equality amongst council tenants because the council will be able to complete repairs and improvements more easily and improve the quality of tenants’ homes.

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But Mr Briggs argues the practice should not be applied to accessible housing.

Mr Briggs said: “Accessible housing is very hard to come by and selling off accessible housing will only make it more limited.

“I understand that it is easier to manage flats when they are in the same block, but do not agree that this policy should be used for accessible housing. I have certainly not heard of this happening in other local authority areas.

“We have a housing shortage in Edinburgh, with long waiting lists and too many families having to be in temporary accommodation.”

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Councillor Jane Meagher, housing, homelessness, and fair work convener, said: “The Council is working with Registered Social Landlord partners to build more modern accessible and affordable homes and, where possible, we will retain and adapt Council homes to meet the needs of our tenants. Our Acquisitions & Disposals policy is enabling the Council to increase the number of Council homes in the city and take forward common repairs. Since the policy has been in place, we have increased our ownership in 128 more blocks. We have also bought more ground floor properties than we have sold.”

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