Housing Insecurity Continues to Rise as Social Safety Nets Decline

Disabled and experiencing housing insecurity

The Threat of Homelessness Is Constant, if Not Inevitable for Sick and Disabled People

A dear friend of mine passed away after suffering for years from a degenerative disease. He was a good soul, full of kindness, a genuine love of life, and a generous nature. Many friends loved him. 

He wasn’t homeless but always lived under the threat of homelessness. He’d inherited a house from his family and lived in it for much of his life. However, he couldn’t afford it. Being sick for so long, he couldn’t earn money and could never pay for significant repairs.

He sometimes lived with heat and hot water not working or without electricity. Eventually, friends would find out what was happening and rally to get the critical stuff fixed.

Like so many people in this country who find themselves struggling like this, they tend not to have many affluent friends, and so the friends are people who struggle, too. They wanted to do more but couldn’t. 

Sometimes, he was squatting in his own house with no heat or electricity, waiting for some authority to come and take it away. Luckily, social services was able to set him up with some help, though not nearly enough. He struggled physically and with so much stress that added to his pain. 

I spoke recently about the words chosen to describe homeless people.

My friend was not unhoused, though the housing was often sub-par, and he could be rightfully labeled at times as having housing insecurity. 

Imagine being stricken with a debilitating disease, forced to stop working, unable to earn a living wage, and trying to keep a roof over your head.

He may be without pain and suffering now, but countless people are in his boat. How many of them are not so lucky as to be able to keep their home?

I constantly hear about people suffering and at risk of losing their homes. They are either chronically ill or unable to make enough money because they work jobs that don’t pay realistic wages for 2023. Consider this: a dozen eggs can cost $6 to $9. If you make $15 an hour, as is the minimum wage in some states in the US, then you might be spending more than half of that hour’s wage on a dozen eggs. As woefully inadequate as that amount is, some states in the US have a minimum wage of less than $8 an hour!

A bag of groceries can eat up your salary rapidly, but you probably won’t qualify for food assistance because they say, “You make too much”!

I’m describing a path toward becoming homeless, which is a very realistic path in 2023.

To make matters worse, I just read food costs rose by over 9% in 2022 and are expected to rise another 7+ % in 2023, just as Covid emergency funding for food assistance is ending.

So as the price of a dozen eggs rises to shocking prices, people receiving food assistance are being cut to less than half of what they were receiving in many cases. When you take into account that a good number of these people are women with children, the elderly, the disabled, or the working poor, this means the most vulnerable among us will be the ones hardest hit, as if life isn’t impossibly hard now. 

How many more families will end up homeless on the street this year? How many more people will end up in their vehicle? 

The thought that all people experiencing poverty are getting everything handed to them is ridiculous. Trust me, what you are handed is not enough to be comfortable while homeless in a tent, much less to survive in 2023.

In the past, some people were able to create multiple accounts for food stamps and welfare by signing up in different counties or bordering states, but that was a long time ago. Everything is electronic now.

Last time I checked, most places require you to be processed like a criminal in order to get the paltry $80 a month for a single adult from SNAP. No one in America could eat healthily with this amount for a month. You are photographed and finger-imaged, and I hear stories that some states go further than that. Because people with no ethics have scammed the system, innocent people must also pay. 

Would you want the government watching your bank account and process you like a criminal? Do you think having your bank accounts watched and being put in the system like a common criminal is worth it for $80 bucks a month?

For most people, it is not worth it. But some still believe the 1970s model of welfare scamming still exists and that the poor get everything handed to them.

My friend was ill for a long time.

A few years ago, he clinically died. They managed to bring him back from the brink. Though he wouldn’t get into detail, he said the exact same thing that I’ve heard from two other people who had been clinically dead and brought back: Don’t be afraid to die.

Well, I have never been afraid to die. I’d be so much better off. The fear isn’t dying; the fear is life! The truth is that people like me, like my friend, and so many other disabled people I know, cannot afford to live. So, life is an unending, painful struggle.

While I’d never dare speak for anyone else, I see no way life is worth it. My options are to be placed in a slum building that would make my disability and overall conditions worse or to remain in my van and pray something presents itself as a better option.

Trust me, if you’re disabled, both options are horrific. Van living isn’t fun, trendy, or glamorous for disabled and chronically ill people.

I know there are some good people in the world. I’ve known many good people. But let’s be honest; they don’t have a prominent voice in this society or any other on Earth.

As more and more governments seek to criminalize homelessness in a prison system run for profit, and as so many NIMBYs win the day, voting against low-income housing, nothing will get better.

The cost of living is ridiculous. Salaries for workers and benefits for the disabled and elderly are far too low. I look around this horrible world and can only feel complete and utter disgust.

Yes, I can wonder at a snowy night and appreciate watching a meteor shower on a clear night or enjoy the chorus of my favorite amphibians calling at a pond. In those brief moments, I think for just a tiny moment that life isn’t so bad.

Then I return to my van and think, “Yeah, it really is THAT bad.” 


Homeless Loki

Homeless Loki

  

Homeless Loki is a disabled homeless person also on the autism spectrum currently homeless in upstate New York

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