Viewpoint by J W Jackie
RENO, Nevada, USA (IDN) – Nearly 12.8 percent of the U.S. population are living with disabilities, according to the latest report by the American Community Survey (ACS). Over the years, American lawmakers recognized the immediate need to provide the members of this community with their basic needs of employment, health, and accessible housing options. At the moment, there is a series of progressive legislative proposals existing for the cause.
The aim is to increase their salaries and include more employees with disabilities in the workforce, and encourage more businesses to hire individuals with a disability who can do the job. This is the government’s way to address the community’s high poverty rate. However, American lawmakers still need to create advanced policies that allow the community to have more access to essential human needs.
Housing and transportation take the biggest chunk of budget in most households. But their costs are usually magnified for those with disabilities. The 1998 amendments of the Fair Housing Act made it illegal for real estate agents from refusing to sell houses to this sector. Even landlords are not allowed to bar individuals with disabilities to rent properties. However, many individuals with disabilities find themselves homeless and unemployed, despite their capabilities.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) revealed that individuals in this sector still live in hazardous or expensive housing conditions. It also increases their chances of being homeless.
Meanwhile, their transportation budget could be larger than most people. This is because many are unable to drive or take advantage of fixed-route transit options. A paratransit service option may be available. But it only works with corresponding public transit options. It means that transportation service is still limited and unreliable.
Scarcity of basic supports and services
The long-term services and supports system (LTSS) in the country is inadequate to meet the needs of the disabled community. This is especially true for those in need of long-term care assistance. However, those who need personal attendant care could not avail of such services. This is because these are not included in most health insurance coverage. Medicaid can provide people with disabilities some access to LTSS. But it can only cover those with limited income.
The latest policies implemented by the Trump administration have affected families with low-income. Some of the programs that received the biggest blows include Medicaid. It also affected nutrition-aid programs and other important social programs. The administration believes that housing, food, and health care are not basic human rights. Instead, these are benefits fit for those who can contribute more on the country’s labor and economic resources. Yet, several opposition and national advocacy organizations continue to fight these amendments.
The claim is that it will be unfair if the country denies them access to these necessities despite their contribution to society. If left unsolved, individuals will not get the services that they deserve. This includes those in the disability sector.
American lawmakers must continue to find ways to fix the problems of people with disabilities. If these are not addressed, the people from this sector will have a hard time making ends meet. They should have access to accessible housing, along with affordable health care, transportation, and nutrition. If this happens, more people with disabilities in the US can be self-sufficient. [IDN-InDepthNews – 20 October 2019]
Photo credit: Unsplash | Josh Appel
IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.
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