2017's Best and Worst Cities for People With Disabilities

Choosing a new city can be difficult for people with disabilities. There is a lot to think about, from the cost of a doctor's visit to the employment rate for people with disabilities. WalletHub analyzed and compared 150 of the most populated cities in the United States and ranked them, taking into account the economy, quality of life, and healthcare.
Published Online: October 12, 2017
Jaime Rosenberg
For people with disabilities, the search for a new city to call home comes with obstacles. There are many things to think about, such as accessibility to the appropriate facilities and a low cost of living.
 
One in 5 Americans lives with a disability, and 1 in 10 lives with a severe disability, according to the Social Security Administration. For these individuals, managing their disability can have a hefty price tag, as disability checks don’t always cover monthly living expenses.
 
Keeping this in mind, WalletHub analyzed and compared 150 of the most populated cities in the United States using 3 key dimensions: economy, quality of life, and healthcare. The 3 dimensions were evaluated using 28 relevant metrics.
 
Metrics included:
  • Employment rate for people with disabilities
  • Share of people with disabilities
  • Wheelchair-accessible restaurants
  • Cost of a doctor’s visit, and
  • Hospitals per capita.
 Listed below are the 5 best and 5 worst cities for individuals with disabilities.
 
Best
 
5. Aurora, Colorado
Score: 57.18
Aurora was 1 of 2 Colorado cities best for people with disabilities. Ranking lower than the other top 5 cities in healthcare, Aurora still obtained a high ranking of 17. The city did fairly well in the other two categories, being ranked 29th in economy and 34th in quality of life.
 
4. Salt Lake City, Utah
Score: 57.32
With the second most family doctors and general practitioners per capita, it is not surprising that Salt Lake City came in seventh in the healthcare ranking. Its next best ranking was in quality of life (29). Its worst ranking was in economy (69).
 
3. Denver, Colorado
Score: 58.18
Bordering Aurora, Denver ranked higher than the other top 5 cities in quality of life ranking (12). The Jewish Family Service in Denver provides employment for people with disabilities and helps them find work within the community, as part of its work to provide career counseling, job seeking assistance, and job coaching. The state’s capital also ranked 12th in healthcare. However, it did not do so well in the economy ranking (82).
 
2. Grand Rapids, Michigan
Score: 58.49
Grand Rapids came in as the top ranked city for healthcare. It also did fairly well in the quality of life ranking (39). However, it came in close to the halfway mark (73) in the economy ranking.
 
1. Overland Park, Kansas
Score: 61.91
For a second year in a row, Overland Park came in as the best overall city for individuals with a disability. Although the Kansas City suburb was ranked best in both economy and healthcare last year, it ranked third and fifth respectively this year. Showing a moderate improvement, it was also ranked 57th for quality of life, up from 78th last year.
 
Worst
 
5. Brownsville, Texas
Score: 42.05
Despite having one of the lowest costs of a doctor’s visit and low annual costs of in-home services, Brownsville did not score well overall. While it ranked 80th in healthcare, the city ranked 144th in quality of life. Its low employment rate of people with disabilities contributed to its ranking (133) in economy.
 
4. Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Score: 41.64
Winston-Salem was 1 of 2 North Carolina cities that ranked in the bottom 5. While it scored higher in the economy ranking (84) than the rest of the cities in the bottom 5, the same cannot be said for the other 2 categories. Winston-Salem ranked 132nd in quality of life and 145th in healthcare.
 
3. Providence, Rhode Island
Score: 41.57
With one of the highest rate of persons with disabilities living in poverty, it is not surprising that Providence ranked 143rd in economy. The city did better than the other bottom 5 cities in quality of life ranking (72), but ranked poorly in healthcare (132).
 
2. Greensboro, North Carolina
Score: 40.60
Greensboro's scores were disappointing in all categories. The third most populated city in North Carolina ranked 117th in economy and 121st in quality of life. Its worst ranked category was healthcare with a ranking of 143.
 
1. San Bernardino, California
Score: 40.51
Coming in as the worst city for people with disabilities, San Bernardino failed to rank well in any of the 3 categories. The city ranked close to last (141) in economy and poorly (133) in healthcare. Its best ranking (96) came from the quality of life category.


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