CW: Assisted Suicide
I receive Supplemental Security Income due to my disability. My monthly check is less than $900. Living in poverty is frustrating. It also causes my anxiety to become worse. Every month I wonder if I’ll be able to pay all of my bills. I also can’t have more than $2,000 in my name. I pay $500 a month for rent. I wouldn’t be able to afford to live independently without my roommate’s help. I couldn’t afford toilet paper, toothpaste, and other necessities on my own.
Affordable housing is limited in my area, and has long waiting lists. Accessible, affordable housing is even more difficult to find. When I moved out in 2020, there were no accessible apartments available for rent in my hometown. Where are people on disability supposed to live if there’s no accessible, affordable housing?
On social media it is not uncommon to see people on disability who create wishlists and fundraisers to help them afford their bills. People don’t want the latest clothes or new cars. These wishlists are filled with toiletries, food, and pet supplies. We shouldn’t live in a world where people can’t afford food and other necessities.
Unfortunately, this is not just a problem in the United States. In Canada, people who rely on Ontario’s Disability Support Program (ODSP) face the same problem. The maximum amount of ODSP benefits for a single person is $1,169 per month or $14,028 annually. That is nearly 30% below the provincial poverty level, which is around $20,000. In certain cities, the discrepancy is much more obvious. In Toronto, monthly payments fall 47.5% short of the poverty threshold.
In some cases, forced poverty does much more than cause anxiety. It can cause people to end their lives. In Toronto, after failing to find accessible, safe housing, a woman has chosen to end her life with the assistance of a physician. She is desperate to find a safe place to live.
Her sole source of income, however, is the Ontario Disability Support Program. Her budget for the month is $1,169 plus an additional $50 for a special diet. She is unable to locate safe, affordable, housing. It shouldn’t be easier for disabled people to die than to live.
Disabled people around the world deserve a livable income. We still fight for equality everyday, and we shouldn’t struggle to survive. Being on disability is not fun. Imagine if you had to live off $871 a month. It’s not easy, and there are millions of Americans who don’t have any other choice.
Favaro, Avis. “Woman with Disabilities Nears Medically Assisted Death after Futile Bid for Affordable Housing.” CTVNews, CTV News, 30 Apr. 2022, https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/woman-with-disabilities-nears-medically-assisted-death-after-futile-bid-for-affordable-housing-1.5882202.
McNaughton, Graeme. “Guelph Disability Advocates Say Council Can Do More than Advocate for Higher ODSP Rates.” Thestar.com, Toronto Star, 4 July 2022, https://www.thestar.com/local-guelph/news/council/2022/07/04/guelph-disability-advocates-say-council-can-do-more-than-advocate-for-higher-odsp-rates.html.