Every January, the United States observes National Poverty Awareness Month. The simplest definition of poverty is the condition of not having enough items or resources to meet one’s fundamental needs. Poverty is caused by a variety of factors, including a lack of access to basic necessities such as food, water, and shelter, as well as education and healthcare. Systemic inequities such as gender, race, ability, and age also contribute to it.
Disabled people are disproportionately affected by poverty. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), disabled people faced food insecurity at a rate that was more than double that of non-disabled people in 2020. According to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, 38.6% of sheltered homeless people in America are disabled.
According to a 2015 NPR article, Americans with disabilities are twice as likely as non-disabled Americans to live in poverty. Disabled people also have a difficult time finding work. Last year, 19.1% of people with disabilities in the United States worked. Furthermore, those who do not have disabilities are three times more likely to be employed than those who do.
Medicaid should also remove income and asset limits. Medicaid coverage is essential for millions of disabled Americans. My PCA hours are paid for by Medicaid. My PCAs assist me with toileting, dressing, transportation, and other necessities. I wouldn’t be able to get to work or use the restroom if it weren’t for my PCA. Without Medicaid, I couldn’t work full time. In reality, going an entire workday without using the restroom would be virtually impossible.
Disabled people should not have to worry about how they will pay for their meals or life-saving medication. This shouldn’t be a concern for anyone. Everyone deserves to be assured that they can pay all of their basic expenses. People shouldn’t go hungry or be homeless.
Fessler, Pam. “Why Disability and Poverty Still Go Hand in Hand 25 Years After Landmark Law.” NPR, NPR, 23 July 2015, http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/07/23/424990474/why-disability-and-poverty-still-go-hand-in-hand-25-years-after-landmark-law.
“Homelessness in America: Overview of Data and Causes.” The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, 2018, https://homelesslaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Homeless_Stats_Fact_Sheet.pdf.
Ives-Rublee, Mia, and Christine Sloane. “Alleviating Food Insecurity in the Disabled Community.” Center for American Progress, Center for American Progress, 22 Nov. 2021, https://www.americanprogress.org/article/alleviating-food-insecurity-in-the-disabled-community/.
Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary – 2021.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24 Feb. 2022, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/disabl.nr0.htm.
Roberts, Lily, et al. “Removing Obstacles for Disabled Workers Would Strengthen the U.S. Labor Market.” Center for American Progress, Center for American Progress, 23 May 2022, https://www.americanprogress.org/article/removing-obstacles-for-disabled-workers-would-strengthen-the-u-s-labor-market/.
Rahman, Nushrat. “Michiganders with Disabilities Are Living in Poverty, Struggling to Afford Basics.” Detroit Free Press, Gannett, 21 Sept. 2022, https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2022/09/16/michiganders-with-disabilities-are-struggling-to-make-ends-meet/10229475002/.
Stevens, Yolanda. “The Relationship between Poverty and Homelessness among Older Adults.” National Alliance to End Homelessness, National Alliance to End Homelessness, 19 Jan. 2023, https://endhomelessness.org/blog/the-relationship-between-poverty-and-homelessness-among-older-adults/.