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On Transition Challenges
January 30, 2015
The SSI Factor in the Transition Process:
In the successful transition of people with disabilities, a permanent given is a dependable living stipend, the Supplemental Security Income. The regular SSI allotment of $850 to 870 presupposes the support services of subsidized housing, In Home Supportive Services, Accessible Paratransit, and other minor social services and supports. Even with the best of circumstances, the regular stipend of $850 - $870 of SSI does not make for a livable existence unless one were to feed on a scant diet and an incredible belt tightening, a life sequestered in invisible economic prison bars. For what existence can one carve out of $850 a month when you have special needs, require more medical supports and attention; finance the personal care attendant who never gets paid on time just so you can function at home and the community? What life can you make out from a constant struggle for the next meal or more alternative cures and therapies beyond the tight reins of regular overmedication? What recreation and positive engagement can you eke out of the daily trashy offerings of regular TV and recycled newspapers? What kind of life are we transitioning them to? What difference does it make when the government makes sure that in the institution, the nursing home makes profit off of their misery while on their own, they face the misery alone? What substantive quality of life are we giving them on Olmstead when we do not make sure that they have enough SSI to live on with a semblance of dignity and quality?
In addition, in transitioning people out of nursing homes, independent living centers (ILCs) are chronically underfunded to fork up the transition money necessary for completing a successful transition. Even when they secure the funding for the preliminary expenses for transition, the State transition reimbursement process is so painfully slow and bureaucratic that a lot of ILCs have had to pull out of the program because it was not financially viable to sustain it.
In addition, there is an artificial and chronic housing shortage resulting from the mismanagement of federal housing dollars originally intended for the creation of more affordable and accessible housing. Because of this, Governor Brown was compelled to shut down the Community Redevelopment Agency in 2013 for its failure to create more affordable and accessible housing necessary for the successful transition of people living in institutions.
Without funds for the transition program and without adequate affordable and accessible housing, transition for those unfairly institutionalized is nearly impossible.