The majority of Living Hope Wheelchair Association members are immigrants and/or low-wage earners who are not entitled to benefits, lack medical insurance, and do not have a stable source of income. The group has seen an increased demand for services post-Hurricane Harvey.
UUSC partners with Living Hope to provide financial assistance and accompaniment to undocumented and African-American families affected by Hurricane Harvey, extending special attention to those who have family members with disabilities.
“The mental health aspect of the disaster has really shaken me. People are beaten down from the storm, and immigrants feel deeply insecure in today’s political climate. People are afraid to even share their names with Living Hope. Every time a member needs to travel, they are potentially putting their lives at risk.” – Living Hope project manager
Living Hope identifies families that do not qualify for federal emergency aid or were wrongfully denied aid, providing support and referrals to other agencies that can help. The association also has created a database of community needs and assistance. Through its outreach, Living Hope is helping build solidarity between black and immigrant communities living with spinal cord injuries. The group is making a difference through small stipends to members and larger stipends for rebuilding or longer-term assistance. Examples of their impact include:
- A woman connected with Living Hope for help building a wheelchair ramp for her home. Living Hope also learned of a hole in her ceiling, damage often not covered by flood insurance. Although she had received some assistance and started repairs to the hole, she ran out of funds. With $500 from Living Hope she was able to complete the repair.
- A woman came to Living Hope in need of a breathing machine. After an assessment, the association determined her problems resulted from Hurricane Harvey and learned her husband needed a wheelchair. The couple lost their home and most of their belongings to mold. Living Hope granted them $1,000 to replace some of their belongings and toward a car ramp that would provide wheelchair access to an automobile. The woman shared that she felt “people had forgotten about us” and described herself as victim of a “double whammy” – the flood and disability.