BEIRUT: A new measure to help Lebanese with disabilities secure housing loans, in a bid to “ensure equality between all Lebanese,” was announced by Social Affairs Minister Wael Abu Faour during a news conference at the ministry Tuesday.
The roughly 84,000 holders of disability cards in the country are eligible under the new measure, which has been active for the past few weeks, Abu Faour told The Daily Star, urging all disabled people “to benefit from this.”
Abu Faour explained that banks usually require that those applying for a loan hold a life insurance policy, which is difficult for those with disabilities as they are often refused coverage.
But since the new measure was implemented, the disabled in the country are now exempt from the requirement of having life insurance to apply for housing loans.
“We call on all disabled people to benefit from this opportunity that will exempt them from the insurance requirement at the [government-sponsored] Public Institution for Housing,” said Abu Faour, who said this measure would “reduce the troubles faced by the disabled community in the country.”
“Every disabled person will have a card that guarantees his right to a loan, which will ensure equality between all Lebanese,” the minister said.
“The ministry is simply implementing an existing law for all Lebanese and specifically the disabled people, who are in need of our help,” Faour added.
The applicants must demonstrate that they earn a salary but Faour stressed that even a record of a small income would allow a disabled person to qualify for a loan.
“To this day, the [low] number of loans provided to disabled people is a shame for the government,” said Abu Faour, calling for all disabled people in need for a loan to apply for it.
Abu Faour also announced during the news conference that his ministry, in collaboration with the Labor Ministry, had established a new committee aimed at creating a binding framework for private companies to hire disabled people.
“Law 220 clearly stipulates that a company can be fined for failing to hire a candidate because of his disability,” Faour said, referring to a law passed more than 10 years ago that theoretically enables those with disabilities to “fully integrate and participate effectively in all aspects of society.”
In August, Faour called for the disabled to take part in civil service exams, which would allow them to qualify for jobs in the public sector.
Abu Faour also said that an efficient policy to tackle the needs of disabled people, such as transportation, required efforts by several ministries.