No one should have to suffer loss of home due to illness, much less “live” in a car. No one should be denied housing assistance because they have a disability. And yet that is what has happened to me (and many others).
I have multiple chronic illnesses, including PTSD and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), the latter of which affects multiple organ systems, including respiratory, digestive, circulatory, and nervous. I suffer chronic joint and muscle pain, severe food sensitivities that have damaged my digestive tract, moderate to disabling fatigue, migraines and vertigo, cognitive decline that affects my memory, perception, speech, concentration, and ability to learn new things, as well as other symptoms too many to list.
HUD states that they recognize and support accommodations for MCS -
- yet the Bellingham Housing Authority who is supposed to abide by HUD standards, has denied me a housing voucher that accommodates my medical needs.
I have been denied rental assistance because I could not find a residence that both met their rental price requirements and my medical needs. I currently reside in a mobile home that meets most of my health needs, however the local housing agency, the Bellingham Housing Authority (BHA), said I could not remain here because HUD’s requirements do not make allowances for my particular illness – a direct contradiction to HUD's statements that support this illness. The only types of residences that fall within their (BHA's) price range are apartments or similar complexes. Due to my high sensitivity to chemicals (which includes smoke, fragrances in body products, air fresheners, bug sprays, paints and solvents, laundry fumes, etc.), it is impossible for me to even go into an apartment building, much less live in one. To do so would mean my speedy demise.
Despite this information and letters from my doctors, the Bellingham Housing Authority refused to accommodate me, even when I offered to accept just the minimum amount they were allowing. They said that I would be unable to afford to stay where I was on that amount; despite my explanation that I did not need much assistance to maintain housing. It’s odd they thought that this allowance was worse than denying me any assistance at all.
From other stories I’ve heard, this type of denial by the BHA is not an uncommon occurrence. People with disabilities are not given the consideration they need when applying for housing assistance.
Disabled people often have an even greater disadvantage when it comes to maintaining housing and in many cases, to finding appropriate housing to accommodate their medical needs. One way to help resolve the homeless problem is to fix the biases and flaws in the agencies that have been created to help people maintain housing.
Please sign my petition to make the Bellingham Housing Authority do what they were created to do: to help people maintain housing. Specifically, to help me with rental costs so I don’t have to lose a roof over my head, my belongings, and my sense of self-worth; so I don’t have to try to survive in my car with all my health problems; and to make them change their policies regarding the disabled. Make them honor HUD's promise to accommodate people with disabilities.