ANNAPOLIS – Single, disabled adult Marylanders will get $53 more each month thanks to Gov. Parris N. Glendening’s budget proposal announced Tuesday, but advocates for the disabled are saying thanks, but that’s hardly enough.
The 40 percent grant increase for the Transitional Emergency Medical and Housing Assistance program is part of the governor’s Marylanders in Need initiative.
“We want to give them a helping hand. Advocates have requested the funding and there is a great need for it,” said Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for the governor.
But many advocates for the disabled still remember the governor’s attempt to eliminate the cash assistance program five years ago, and the grant is the first `substantial’ increase for this population in 11 years, they said.
“In past years, the governor hasn’t been very understanding of sick, needy adults,” said Kevin Lindamood, community relations coordinator for Health Care for the Homeless.
After eliminating the cash assistance program for single, disabled individuals that existed in 1995, the governor only reinstated the program after intense public pressure, Lindamood said.
“About 15 activists took over the governor’s office and refused to leave. Four were arrested,” Lindamood recalled of the backlash.
Since then, the governor has increased the grant for single, disabled individuals, but, as Laura Howell, public policy director for the Center for Poverty Solutions says, his increases have been in “very small increments.”
Many advocates for the disabled say a single, disabled person should be treated as a one-person family under the Temporary Cash Assistance program. By their calculations, such a family would receive $284 per month.
In fact, organizations including Health Care for the Homeless and the Center for Poverty Solutions formed the ACCESS Coalition to advocate specifically for single, disabled individuals, whom they say legislators often overlook.
Their monthly stipend is $132, or about $4.40 a day. If approved by legislators, the new grant would be $185 per month, about $100 less than the advocates’ goal. The stipend goes to more than 11,500 recipients statewide, most of whom reside in Baltimore.
“Is $185 enough?” Lindamood asked. “Certainly not. Just the cost of a one- bedroom apartment is much more than that.”
Still, advocates for the disabled must focus on urging supportive legislators to keep the $53 increase in the budget.
Legislators, including Sen. Thomas M. Middleton, D-Charles, seem to be optimistic.
“I’m going to be very supportive of it,” Middleton said. “The state is still enjoying good economic times and the less fortunate need a little care too.”