Today is April 1st, a day known for pranks and hijinks being played on unsuspecting targets. However it's also a sad and cruel day today, for the mentally and physically disabled in this state who depend on the paltry amount of financial assistance provided from the state's Disability Lifeline program (formerly GAU) which has been cut yet again, the second time in the past year. Originally the amount was $339, which combined with food stamps and some health coverage allowed many to have a home in the various low income housing around the city.
Late last year that amount was cut down to around $267, and starting today it has been slashed AGAIN down to $197.
Can you imagine living on less than two hundred dollars a month? With a few hundred or less dollars in food stamps as well? Could you survive? Well, many people will not be able to survive, and starting this month we're going to see a lot more people being made homeless due to the Washington State budget cuts to the most vulnerable of it's citizens. Gov. Gregoire talks about how these are hard choices and bad ideas, but I don't think she truly comprehends just what these cuts are going to do.
The apartment building I live in has many rooms that are priced at two hundred dollars a month. They're intentionally priced low to help those who do not have a lot of money. The apartment building is run by a non profit church organization, and there are a small handful of residents here who are on this program that was just slashed to less than the amount their rent costs.
A lot of the people on this program are unable to work either through physical or mental disabilities. They are deemed UNABLE to work, that's why they're on the program to start with. And now there are these cuts that are dropping their financial support to under two hundred dollars a month? Seriously?
I've already talked to a friend who said someone he knows has already had to move to a homeless shelter, because he could not afford to pay his rent after these new cuts. I predict more will be on the way. The local homeless shelters are already full up most nights, with more people than they are equipped to handle.
I realize that in these hard times that cuts have to be made, and there are generally some hard decisions that need to not only be broached but implemented. However, there has to be other ways to go about it than this.
It's interesting to note that while the cuts are being made to the Disability Lifeline, which is going to convert many people into homeless citizens, it's interesting what they did NOT cut:
via The Olympian:
Faced with that basic question of values and priorities, the state Legislature acted decisively: When they convened in January, they slashed Disability Lifeline benefits again, to a paltry $193 per month. As for the poultry bedding and heating tax breaks, the Legislature left them untouched.
They also left untouched tax breaks for private jet owners; for people who get elective cosmetic surgery; for stockbrokers and mortgage brokers; for big out-of-state banks; for corporations that laid off hundreds of workers. All told, the Legislature left more than 567 tax breaks untouched.
Instead, lawmakers cut health care for the elderly and for pregnant women. They cut funding for kids in day care. They cut home care services for seniors. They cut food and housing for people who need it most.
Many of these politicians talk about how they are of the Christian faith. Yet Jesus spoke openly of whatever you do for the least of the people, you do to Him.
To those in power making these decisions that will never touch their lives, I ask you to think of what you are doing to the least of the people. The most vulnerable.
A recent article I read quoted the shelter case manager at the local House of Charity, here in Spokane, as having heard talk about some people having to sell their medicine to pay for their housing. How is this something that is happening?
I'm fortunate enough to not be in the situation that many others are, some of whom I consider friends. And I truly empathize with these people and pray that something will get done to rectify this situation. I read that in the budget plans submitted that the Disability Lifeline program is looked at as being eliminated completely.
I can only imagine what is going to happen at that point.
EDIT: April 3rd 2011.
Someone just hipped me to this graphic, which makes me even angrier. Look at the cost of the programs that are being cut across the country -- on a national level (on the left) and the cost of other programs and loopholes and things benefitting the rich that are left untouched. It's easy to see who's best interests the Government has, huh?