Lisa Beaty and Kim Hilton were prepared to sell most of their stuff before moving out of their three-bedroom, two-bathroom rental home on a recent wet afternoon in this little hamlet just outside Glacier National Park. Hilton was healing from a broken leg. He sat in his recliner and watched friends and relatives look at old hunting equipment, jewelry, furniture, and other items.
Hilton has Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other health conditions that have rendered him disabled and unable to work for years. Despite being covered by Medicare, his only source of income is government disability benefits. Beaty also depends on disability benefits due to a shoulder injury and fibromyalgia. Their combined monthly income is about $1,500.
However, their income is no longer sufficient. This year, an investor purchased the home and raised the rent from $1,000 (including utilities) to $1,800. (not including utilities). According to them, they were forced to leave because of the expense increase. They ended their relationship because of the ordeal. Beaty intended to move into her daughter’s one-bedroom apartment.
Hilton planned to live out of his truck while waiting for an opening at one of the few assisted living facilities in Flathead County. The area is primarily rural. Hilton is in poor health and has brittle bones. The wait could last several days or several months.
Rents have skyrocketed across the nation. The problem is severe in Montana, where snow has already begun to fall as the long Rocky Mountain winter approaches.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, rents in Montana have risen. According to data from the research firm CoStar Group released by The Washington Post, Lewis and Clark County, for example, has seen rental prices rise 37% since 2019, one of the biggest increases in the country.
Rents rose 11% on average across the country in 2021. Many older Americans face an economic catastrophe due to increased rents and inflation. According to Ramsey Alwin, president and CEO of the National Council on Aging, the poverty rate for those 65 and over increased from 8.9% in 2020 to 10.3% in 2021.
Many seniors are also struggling with food insecurity. Chip Riley of Adams Center, NY, receives disability benefits. He also relies on SNAP benefits to buy groceries. In the U.S, the cost of food has increased by 13% in the past year.
Riley says he believes that his SNAP benefits are insufficient. Riley has diabetes, which means he can only eat certain items to stay on his specified diet. Foods that Riley can eat include chicken and pork. The cost of chicken has increased by nearly 17% since 2021, according to the July 2022 Consumer Price Index.
Riley’s condition requires the use of insulin. He also takes several medications. He says he would be much worse off if those expenses had not been covered by insurance.
Individuals with type 1 diabetes, on average, require two to three vials per month, according to the American Diabetes Association. According to Dr. Adam Gaffney, a critical care physician at the Cambridge Health Alliance in Massachusetts, a month’s supply of insulin can cost $1,000 or more for people without insurance or with insufficient coverage.
Nobody should struggle to find housing or nutritious food. Many Americans are struggling with inflation right now. Those with disabilities and seniors are particularly affected. Everyone should be able to live without worrying about where their next meal is coming from or where they will sleep.
Bolton, Aaron. “More Older Americans Become Homeless as Inflation Rises and Housing Costs Spike.” NPR, NPR, 10 Nov. 2022, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/11/10/1135125625/homelessness-elderly-housing-inflation.
Brasher, Philip. “Grocery Prices up Again in September, Driving Another Gain in CPI.” AgriPulse, Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc., 13 Oct. 2022, https://www.agri-pulse.com/articles/18365-grocery-prices-up-again-in-september-driving-another-gain-in-cpi.
Hageman, Megan. “Demand for Chicken Is Skyrocketing despite Inflation.” Eat This Not That, Galvanized Media, 6 Sept. 2022, https://www.eatthis.com/chicken-demand-increasing-despite-inflation-september-2022/.
Lovelace Jr., Berkeley. “Insulin Prices: Many Adults with Diabetes Ration Insulin, Study Finds.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 17 Oct. 2022, https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/insulin-prices-many-adults-diabetes-ration-insulin-study-finds-rcna52287.
Straub, Brendan. “Inflation Taking a Toll on People Living on Assistance, Fixed Incomes.” WWNY-TV, Gray Television , 13 Apr. 2022, https://www.wwnytv.com/2022/04/13/inflation-taking-toll-people-living-assistance-fixed-incomes/.