At a press interview during the inauguration of 516 residential units for families with 2 or more disabled members, Minister of Cooperatives, Labour and Social Welfare, Dr. Ali Rabiei said: “The people with disabilities are among principal target groups in our policy to address problems of lower class that are unable to use equal opportunities due to multiple disabilities. Our major approach is to empower persons with disabilities through creating employment, housing and other requirements.”
He mentioned that construction of the residential units was carried out following the conclusion of an agreement between Ministry of Welfare, Housing Foundation, Mostazafan Foundation and Charitable Housing Association: “The project is entrusted to donors and low-cost beautiful and sturdy houses are going to be built.”
“Our goal is construction of 11,300 residential units for families with 2 or more disabled members within the next four to five years. More than 2,300 urban and rural units will be completed soon and the target families will receive them by spring 2017”, he added.
Calling it an interagency project, Dr. Rabiei said: “We hope similar collaborations are encouraged in other fields such as employment and addressing target groups. This is an independent project apart from social housing project into which both Housing Foundation and Mostazafan Foundation entered; whereas, social housing is being pursued as one of the public policies by the government.”
He further mentioned that the entire costs of building and equipping the houses are borne by donors. 250 units are delivered in Tehran and 266 more units in other cities like Lorestan, Razavi Khorasan, North Khorasan, Kerman and Yazd. Also, 2,300 units are under construction. So far, some 17 billion Tomans budget (Iranian currency) is allocated by Mostazafan Foundation, 11 billion Tomans by Welfare Organization, and 725 million Tomans by Charitable Housing Association.
According to Dr. Rabiei, the Welfare organization’s housing plan is a separate plan for housing of the persons with disabilities on yearly basis depending on annual budget of the organization for target groups such as female-headed households and families with one disabled member, and currently 47 residential units are under construction with 20-80 percent progress. He added that a 3% quota for employment of persons with disabilities in the public sector is soon to be implemented.
“A major part of employment of persons with disabilities is realized through paying employment loans. The nominated persons are provided with skill trainings; even some workshops are designed to employ the disabled only. We are seeking to encourage the employers to use persons with disabilities. We also pay affordable loans to the disabled who have working abilities. In 2015, some 45,000 job opportunities have been generated for this target group through paying premium to the employers”, said Rabiei.
He added: “During the Government Week, we are going to initiate Alzheimer screening in provinces with high prevalence of the disease as well as genetic testing and counseling in three provinces of Yazd, Kerman and Mazandaran on a mandatory basis. Also, audio and vision screening coverage will be increased up to 90% in the current year. We urge families with disabled child or sign of disability to take genetic testing and counseling serious. Low-income families will receive genetic counseling free of charge.”
Regarding establishment of 17 shelters for street children with the collaboration of Tehran Municipality, Rabiei said: “Seven centers will be inaugurated during Government Week; and they provide children with life skills. We intend to create such centers in provinces with high number of street children in order to tackle child abuse. Also the task of identifying notorious drug addicts was assigned to Welfare Organization. “