by Julia Feinberg, AAPD Policy Intern (8.4.11):
The Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Housing Task Force recently released Priced Out in 2010 that shows the average national rent for a one bedroom apartment is more than the monthly payments received by people with disabilities on Social Security Income (SSI). The average SSI monthly payment with state supplemental payments is $703 yet the national average rent is $785. So even if a person spent all of their income on rent, most would not be able to afford it.
Priced Out in 2010 brings to the forefront terrifying realities that millions of people with disabilities face everyday. It shows that people all over the country have no choice but to rent the cheapest housing they can find or live in an institution. This fact alone has many large and looming consequences. Finding the cheapest housing often means living in an unsafe and run-down neighborhood. For people with disabilities, living in a dangerous environment is more risky and can have greater consequences such as difficulty finding a personal attendant who is willing to come at night.
Studies have shown that low income housing is further from hospitals, public transit stops, and even grocery stores. If a hospital is not close to where someone lives, it can have lasting medical costs. Additionally, the quality of a hospital is often linked to the wealth of its surrounding areas. For many people with disabilities, living near public transit is essential for becoming independent and holding a steady job. Relying on ParaTransit for transportation is not a choice many want to make.
Another side affect of living in a low income neighborhood is the quality of education in the school district. Since public schools are largely funded by local taxes, poor neighborhoods often mean poor schools. As we all know, when money is tight special education programs are severely underfunded and overall quality of education decreases. As AAPD has said, education is the key to the future. By living in neighborhoods with bad schools, we are continuing the cycle of relying on SSI instead of being able to get a good job to become self-sufficient.
When looking at the deeper meaning of Priced Out in 2010, we should think about how relying on an insufficient SSI payment affects people with disabilities, not only by being forced to live in low income housing but also the negative aspects of a poor neighborhood.
- Conduct a review locally of average rents in your area and compare with the typical SSI check in your state.
- Issue a report and demand more affordable housing!