Letter: Where is help for people with disabilities?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I’m trying to get the story out there to help sick people.

Asheville is spending $73,000 on a study to help homeless people instead of spending the money to help people. They want to sue HCA instead of the feds. The feds haven’t been enforcing the antitrust laws. That’s why we have one power company and one hospital. They waste money instead of building sidewalks on every state and city road.

I called again and tried to get Medicaid, and they still say I make too much money. I make $22,000 a year. My meds cost $7,500. My house payment is $1,159 a month. That leaves me $11,000 a year left to live on.

I have filed ADA laws complaints against the N.C. Department of Transportation for not building sidewalks on every state road. I’ve filed ADA laws and bar association complaints against the N.C. Attorney General’s office and Josh Stein for not following ADA laws. I’ve filed ADA laws complaints against North Carolina, Buncombe County and the city of Asheville for not following ADA laws. Not helping people with disabilities.

I have an email from the mayor of Asheville trying to lie and make excuses about why they can’t fix and build new sidewalks for people with wheelchairs to get down the road.

I spent almost 21 years working for NC DOT’s Division 13, Buncombe Maintenance, before I got sick, and they are supposed to have short-term and long-term disability, but they don’t. When you get Social Security Administration disability and get your check, they make you pay back any money they paid you. The more you get from SSA, the less the state pays employees if they get sick.

Buncombe County offered people with disabilities $300 to fix a house up. That’s B.S. I paid $20,000 for a new HVAC alone to fix my house. They give you a discount on property tax, but they want you to get another doctor’s exam to get it. They won’t take a federal disability letter as proof you are disabled. I’m sick and tired of these crooks getting away with treating old and sick people like dirt.

— Gary Simpson

Editor’s note: Xpress reached out to city and county officials with the letter writer’s points. We received the following response from Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer: “The city is retrofitting older sidewalks to include upgraded ADA curb ramps and building new sidewalks to include ramps. The city’s new greenways, road repaving projects and other routine sidewalk maintenance incorporate ADA curb ramps as well. The NCDOT also constructs and improves curb ramps on state-maintained roadways within the city. And private development projects are often required to construct or upgrade curb ramps when constructing new buildings.

“Additionally, on Oct. 25, Asheville City Council adopted an Americans with Disabilities Act Transition Plan that provided an outline of the necessary improvements to curb ramps throughout the city. The city will begin implementing the plan this year and is scheduled to spend roughly $3.8 million on ADA improvements to existing sidewalks through projects already budgeted. More information about the plan can be found here: [avl.mx/cbc].”

We received the following response from Buncombe County spokesperson Kassi Day, which said in part: “[The Homeowner Grant Program] is not aimed at people with disabilities specifically, but instead offers up to $300 to homeowners who meet the residency and income requirements in unincorporated Buncombe County and up to $500 in the city of Asheville and Woodfin. Those dollars can be put toward your property tax bill or other housing costs like a mortgage payment or homeowner’s insurance.

“When it comes to tax-relief programs, we have heard that this can sometimes be confusing and different from some social security programs; however, our assessment office is bound by N.C. General Statutes to administer those programs in the way the state has set forth. It is true that property tax exclusion and the circuit breaker program require a physician’s certification of disability be filled out for the state of North Carolina.

“Health & Human Services offers a variety of programs to help our residents, and your reader should certainly reach out to our call center at 828-250-5500 to see what assistance they might be eligible for. Additionally, the Board of Commissioners has committed to dedicating affordable housing funds to our community partners like Mountain Housing Opportunities and Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity to help income-eligible homeowners with emergency housing repairs. Your reader can learn more about those programs here: [avl.mx/cbd].”


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13 thoughts on “Letter: Where is help for people with disabilities?

  1. Grant Millin

    The homeless study and Citizens with Disabilities (CWDs) is something I happen to have intervened in. CWDs are mentioned but there’s no pie chart showing the size of the CWD homeless population… aka “chronically homeless”. I spent a lot of energy trying to get COA and BCG to see in advance why no one wins by obfuscating where CWDs so obviously appear among the homeless.

    The mentally ill and those with Substance Use Disorder are obvious homeless constituents. However, visually and hearing impaired — as well as those with other physical issues — wandering around homeless — deserved a section of the NAEH study. Journalists not asking about where the CWD section of the homeless study is that I demanded months ago adds to the leadership problem.

    The December 13 COA Capital Improvements Program report shows zero for ADA Infrastructure Improvement. So, it looks like the Close the Gap ADA plan published… and then there’s no NEW ADA funding. I asked how much new ADA funding has been budgeted under the Manheimer-Campbell Administration:


    CWDs are not going to get everything they need either. However, since the Mayor’s Commission on Citizens with Disabilities is an example of government false advertising / misinformation… because it may have not even met once sense the Bellamy Administration… Asheville and Buncombe CWDs do deserve to be recognized as the largest and most vulnerable minority:


    CWDs are all genders, races, sexual orientations, and creeds. And while the Buncombe Department of Health and Human Services helps many CWDs, the county manager and the commissioners gave the same pattern and practice of cutting out CWDs from equity strategy.

  2. MV

    But hey, City, keep selling off and/or renting valuable community assets to the wealthy for $1…Keep kowtowing to tourists even though we don’t even have the resources to clean up and police and take care of the people who are here. This ‘genius’ business model will fix everything, one way or another.

  3. Curious

    This is Mr. Simpson’s second letter reporting his difficulties. If he worked for the state for 25 years, as he reports on his Linked-In page, wouldn’t he have qualified for disability retirement if he became too sick to work? Is he on SSA disability? That usually carries both Medicare and Medicaid coverage. Should Mr. Simpson see the folks at Pisgah Legal? Has he spoken with the folks at Health & Human Services?

    • Grant Millin

      Getting SSDI doesn’t just happen.

      He’s also asking about the systemic treatment of CWDs, versus asking that politicians just make things better for him only.

    • Marcia

      When I worked for the state there was no disability retirement; just plain retirement.

  4. Phyllis Wheeler

    Why not a disability price for the new required Blue Ridge Parkway Stickers?

  5. Grant Millin

    Also, I forgot to never communicate with people who use anonymity.

    • Shultz!

      Mr. “Strategy Innovator” – you so smart! You should def be on council! Run again, please!

      • Grant Millin

        For anyone who isn’t an anonymity person who would actually like good governance:

        I didn’t run in 2022 because it was a great time to do it for me. I ran because our local elections are not competitive.

        At least I have the kind of agenda developed now that people who are neither Ultra Conservative or Ultra Progressive can make use of. So, however the transformation has to happen in an open, ethical manner; I’m still interested.

        Or anonymity people can run for office.

        Oh, darn. Those people have to crawl out from under their rocks and use their real names. So, not. There will be no anonymous people on ballots… except for George Santos of course.

        One thing is for sure, it’s only up from this point.

        • intentionally anonymous this time

          Your closemindedness about interacting with others under specific circumstances flies directly in the face of your unity message. EVERYONE has to be at the table, including people whose views you may openly disagree with and/or find offensive.

          • Grant Millin

            It’s easy to be anonymous. Interacting in a democracy means being courageous enough to use one’s real identity.

  6. MV

    Dude, I ain’t anonymous. MV is my name. Some people identify as Black, others as white or transgender or conservative or progressive or Jack Cecil or Esther Manheimer or Grant Millin…I am simply MV. If I met you in public and you said your name, I’d introduce myself as MV.

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