Help the handicapped
What issue should Barack Obama make a top priority as president? In the latest essay in a Boston.com series leading up the presidential inauguration, Lori Burrows of Millbury expresses hope that Obama will focus new attention on assisting the handicapped and their families.
Dear Mr. President-elect:
My one wish for your four years in office would be to look at handicapped issues.
My husband became wheelchair-bound in 2008 due to an amputation of his left leg. This left us scrambling to find housing. Our old place could not be made wheelchair accessible, so Alan spent 21/2; months in a nursing home. With much luck and much hard work, we found a very nice apartment.
During those months, I worked, visited Alan and filled out numerous forms to find housing. Most affordable handicapped housing is available through the housing authority in individual cities and towns. You must fill out a form for each city and town, many have their own forms, and many require their own doctors' paperwork. For us, the cost associated with all of these separate mailings was approximately $25 - and time-consuming.
After the paperwork is sent off, applicants receive a form letter explaining that if they are a resident of the city or town they get first dibs on housing openings. But the depressing part was most cities and towns have multiple-year waiting lists.
The main problem I have with our current apartment is I have to work full-time and part-time jobs to afford the place.
Mr. President, have you ever tried to take a handicapped person out for something as simple as a meal? Any trip out requires much work and preparation on my part. I must ensure that the place has a ramp, that it has a table or a suitable parking spot for the wheelchair, and that bathrooms are accessible.
I find that between working, caring for Alan, housework, laundry, and anything else that comes up I am exhausted at the end of the week.
President Obama, I am not alone in my plight. Many people are caring for loved ones who need help. You need to find a way to have handicapped housing affordable, and to make sure proper medical care is provided for the handicapped and their care-givers. There needs to be a way to make all new building handicapped-friendly, and there must be more education of the general public about the problem, starting in elementary school.
One of my greatest joys is when a child approaches Alan to check out his electric wheelchair, and their mom and dad come over and everyone learns together.
Your election promise was change. I am asking for a change in how handicapped people are treated and a change in services provided.
To submit an essay, write no more than 400 words and e-mail the entry to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also include your town, job, a contact number, and a photograph of yourself. Write Dear Mr. President-elect in the subject field.