Vestibular Community Members Facing Homelessness?

Nobody likes moving back home with their folks. At least, not this gal. I NEVER thought I would be in my 30’s living with my in-laws (I’m blessed I have awesome in-laws). I’m learning my situation is not uncommon for a person living with chronic illness. Several folks I’ve met living with chronic vertigo or dizziness, find vertigo and work restrictions are career shattering.

adult living with chronic illness dealing with family

Photo credit: Northern Star

Homelessness is essentially caused by the inability of households to pay for housing.

The average monthly disability SSDI benefit in 2013 was $1,146.  That leaves a gross annual income of $13,752. It’s suggested that 30%* of your income goes toward housing and utilities, which allots $343.00 a month toward housing. I’m concerned many members of the vestibular community are being forced to live with family, friends, or may even become homeless! As I continue digging through rental housing data, my worst fears are being realized.

Fair market rental averages throughout US counties:

Oregon- Salem
Studio- $547
1 Bedroom- $578

Washington- Seattle-Bellevue
Studio- $771
1 Bedroom- $913

California- Los Angeles
Studio- $896
1 Bedroom- $1,083

Chicago-Joliet-Naperville
Studio – $727
1 Bedroom- $826

New York, NY
Studio- $1,163
1 Bedroom- $1,215

Affordable housing for members of our community should be a top priority.

The Center for Housing Policy and Enterprise Community Partners compiled a list of the positive impacts of affordable housing on health. Here are the top three I think are critical:

  1.  Homeownership may contribute to health improvements by fostering greater self-esteem, increased residential stability and an increased sense of security and control over one’s physical environment.
  2. Affordable housing may improve health outcomes by freeing up family resources for nutritious food and health care expenditures.
  3.  Stable, affordable housing may improve health outcomes for individuals with chronic illness and disabilities and seniors by providing a stable and efficient platform for the ongoing delivery of health care and other necessary services.

 

Is affordable housing even accessible? 

I currently live in Los Angeles County. The wait list for Section 8 housing has been closed since 2004 ( I could not confirm nor deny this. I was unable to reach anyone from the housing authority)! I was able to confirm that the city of Norwalk’s (suburban city in Los Angles County) Section 8 wait list has been closed since 2007.  If Norwalk Section 8 wait list miraculously opened up, and the average SSDI disability benefit recipient was granted a housing voucher, they still wouldn’t be able to afford a studio or 1 bedroom apartment! Proof of search results from LACounty website:

Your Search Found 0 Properties: (In Norwalk, Rent range $0 to $343 a month, Accepting Section 8 Vouchers)We’re sorry. No housing was found that matched your request. You may want to try a search with a different price range or a different locality.

SO…is affordable housing affordable? Obviously not. The next few months I will be exploring alternative ways to provide realistic affordable housing to vestibular members within our community. It’s my belief that living in a safe environment and having access to nutritious foods are the building blocks to developing a better quality of life.

Has chronic illness forced you into an uncertain housing situation? Share in the comments below.

Much love,
Marissa

“*Typically, not more than 30% of your gross income should be spent on rent including utilities [electric, gas, etc.]. This is the high-end of what you may be able to spend per month. Your personal financial status will determine the actual amount you may want to spend per month on rent. “

Sources:
http://www.huduser.org/
http://housing.lacounty.gov/index.html
http://www.ssa.gov/pressoffice/basicfact.htm
http://www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/the-state-of-homelessness-2013
http://chispahousing.org/docs/The%20Positive%20Impacts%20of%20Affordable%20Housing%20on%20Health.pdf