Missourians with disabilities and their loved ones are at the state Capitol this week to rally in support of the rights of the state’s disability community.

Some of the challenges they face are access to affordable transportation, employment, housing that fits their needs, and home healthcare services.

Shelby Butler is with a Springfield nonprofit, called Empower: Abilities. She said that an increase in provider rates for direct care workers would go a long way.

Photo by Empower: Abilities

Photo by Empower: Abilities

“A lot of people are choosing other career paths because it just does not pay what you need to live your own life and to be able to be independent yourself,” she told Missourinet. “And then there are benefits and things that you may not get as well, so a lot of times people who are working in that field are actually at the poverty level. The legislature does support higher wages, but we still have a ways to go. And even Buckee’s that opened on 44 near Springfield, you get paid $22 to clean the bathrooms there. And so, I’ve not met very many aides or, you know, homecare workers that our getting that amount.”

The Missouri Legislature passed a provider rate increase in the current year’s state budget. Whether these workers get a pay increase in the next state budget is up to lawmakers, who are currently working on budget books.

Some Missourians with disabilities want the chance to earn a living, but the employment opportunities available to them can be hard to find. Butler encourages Missouri businesses to hire people with disabilities.

“People are wanting to work,” Butler said. “They want to be able to pay their own way. They want to be able to contribute back into the economy. So, if they can’t find a job or they don’t have that opportunity to work, they’re limited and they’re living at poverty level and not able to really do what they want to do.”

Butler said with rising expenses, many cannot simply live off of Social Security.

Finding housing can be a challenge for some people, especially people with disabilities. Butler said the problem keeps growing for Missouri’s disability community.

“We’re in a major crisis with affordable, accessible housing,” said Butler. “And so, we know that there are people waiting in nursing homes trying to get out into the community that can’t find housing. We know people are not in adequate housing. So, a lot of times they’re forced to live in housing that isn’t safe or accessible to them just to have a place to live.”

She said some home builders are taking housing accommodations into consideration more today than they used to.

Copyright © 2024 · Missourinet