A coalition of social services agencies has issued Iowa’s assistance programs for the poor a failing grade. The report card issued by the group called “Iowa Human Needs Advocates” says Iowa’s 47th in per capita spending on low-income housing. Alecia Smith, a single mother of two from Colfax, says she discovered how that impacts Iowans when she applied for subsidized house while going back to college. She spent two years on a waiting list in a cramped appartment. She says she had moved from a three-bedroom appartment in a nice neighborhood into a two bedroom where here childrend had to share a room “in one of the worst neighborhoods in Des Moines,” as it was the cheapest she could afford. She says there was a lot of drugs, crime and several fires in the neighborhood. Smith says her story is not unique. She says her story is a story of struggling for self-sufficiency that a lot of single mothers go through. She says she works at an agency that helps such families and knows they’re going through a lot worse. Smith says a lack of subsidized housing forces many families to go without electricity, food, and health insurance. The report card shows Iowa ranks in the top half of the states with increasing numbers of uninsured. Deanna Thorn of Des Moines says her 40-year-old son Monty died in July because he didn’t have health coverage. She says he died from an undiagnosed heart disease that took 10 years to develop. she says because he had no health insurance, the problem went untreated and he did not know he was slowly dying. Thorne says lawmakers need to do more to make helath insurance affordable for the self-employed, and not cut medicaid — the state’s health care program for the poor.The report also criticized the state’s lack of mental health parity — saying Iowa’s one of only four states that don’t require insurance companies to treat mental illnesses like other physical illnesses. Lisa Campbell of Grimes says she was being treated for an eating disorder when she discovered she also suffered from depression. She says she was able to stay in the hospital until her doctor determined she was ready to go home. She says many people who were in the hospital with her were told when to go home by their insurance companies. Campbell says she can’t imagine the insurance companies would make the same decisons for diabetes or cancer. Campbell says she found other problems after getting out of the hospital. She says she began seeing an excellent therapist and was started on an anti-depressant. She says she felt she was making progress when her psychiatrist became frustrated with dealing with insurance companies and stopped taking insurance and the therapist was not covered by insurance. She says she decided to pay her own therapy costs, but says many people don’t have that option. The report also says cuts to Iowa Legal Aid leave Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens, including victims of domestic violence, senior citizens, children and persons with disabilities, without the legal help they need.
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