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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Housing & Transportation

Announcing NCIL’s Home Modifications Fact Sheet for CILs

Presented by NCIL and the KU RTC/PICL

NCIL is excited to announce the Home Mods Fact Sheet. This fact sheet is intended to support CILs looking to create or expand a home modification program. NCIL would like to thank the team at PICL (Promoting Interventions for Community Living) at the University of Kansas, as well as our featured CILs: PILR in Placer, CA; The Ability Center of Greater Toledo; and accessABILITY in Indianapolis for their support and guidance.

Home modifications or “home mods” are changes a person makes to make their home accessible to them. Home mods can be as simple as a small threshold ramp to get through a doorway or as major as a full renovation. Some of the most common home modifications are ramps, improvements to doorways and entrances, and bathroom modifications.

A lot of Centers for Independent Living (CILs) operate home modification programs to help people make their homes more accessible. In a 2021 NCIL / RTC/PICL survey on home mod programs, 70% of CILs reported operating a formal home mod program. Some CILs help recommend improvements, others help with minor home mods, and some CILs assist with everything from recommendations, planning, and construction.

This fact sheet will share resources for your CIL, along with promising practices and real world examples from several CILs with successful home modification programs: accessABILITY in Indianapolis, Indiana; The Ability Center of Greater Toledo in Ohio; and Placer Independent Living Resource Services (PIRS) in Auburn, California.

Join U.S. DOT to Hear Updates from the Inclusive Design Challenge Semifinalists

A message from the Department of Transportation

On Monday, January 24 and Wednesday, January 26, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will host two virtual workshops highlighting the ten Semifinalists for DOT’s Inclusive Design Challenge. The Challenge aims to generate solutions to enable people with physical, sensory, and cognitive disabilities to use automated vehicles to access jobs, healthcare, and other critical destinations.

Please join us to learn about the designs and progress and offer real-time feedback. Five teams will present in each session; advanced registration is required.

Session 1 (Register for Session 1)

Monday, January 24, 2022

11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Session 2 (Register for Session 2)

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern

Learn more about the Inclusive Design Challenge by visiting the website and stay engaged by signing up for email alerts.

Justice Department Sues Uber for Overcharging People with Disabilities

The US Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Uber Technologies Inc. (Uber) for charging people with disabilities wait time fees if they took longer to enter an Uber vehicle due to their disability. Please read the Justice Department’s press release on the lawsuit to learn more. Please share this notice with your network and take action if you were charged wait time fees.

From the press release:

If you believe you have been a victim of disability discrimination by Uber because you, or someone you were traveling with, were charged wait time fees, please contact 833-591-0425 (toll-free), 202-305-6786, or send an email to Uber.Fee@usdoj.gov. For more information on the ADA, please call the department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or visit www.ada.gov. For more information on the Civil Rights Division, please visit www.justice.gov/crt.

Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill to be Signed into Law

Friday night, the House passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the bipartisan infrastructure package that passed the Senate in August. President Biden is expected to sign the bill soon.

The package includes $1.2 trillion in investments into the country’s infrastructure, including transportation, internet, and utilities. Some of the key items included and funded in the bill include: repairs to roads, bridges, and other infrastructure; clean water access; broadband internet, including efforts to close the digital divide; efforts to tackle climate change; public transit modernization; electric vehicles; grants to improve legacy passenger rail accessibility (a version of the All Station Accessibility Program (ASAP) Act); and Amtrak accessibility improvements, including the addition of a disabled person on the Amtrak Board of Directors. You can find more details in the White House fact sheet.

This package represents a historic investment in our country’s infrastructure. It will improve transportation, address climate change, reduce inequities, and create jobs. It is, however, important to note that the infrastructure bill did not pass together with the Build Back Better Act. (Read more about the Build Back Better Act.) While these were separated into two packages early on, alone they make up only part of the President’s legislative agenda.

The House did not vote on the Build Back Better Act. They did take a procedural vote that will allow the final vote to happen. A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score on the bill is expected this week. It is expected the House will vote on the Build Back Better Act when they return from recess during the week of November 15. It will then move to the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Schumer has said he hopes to pass the package before Thanksgiving. In the meantime, keep calling your Members of Congress to ensure it gets over the finish line! Check out our previous alert for more information.

Join the Department of Transportation for Public Meetings on the Justice40 Initiative!

On January 27, President Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) on combatting climate change. The EO also announced the creation of the Justice40 Initiative (“Justice40”).

The goal of Justice40 is to work toward equity for communities that have been marginalized. Many of these communities have been harmed by underinvestment in important programs and services. These include transportation, housing, water, healthcare, and more. Justice40 will try to fix this. Justice40 will direct 40% of federal investments in covered programs to disadvantaged communities. Interim guidance with recommendations has been released.

The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) is working to developing their approach to Justice40. To start things off, they will host two virtual meetings. These meetings are open to the public. People who join the meetings will hear from USDOT leaders. People can also provide input. Please see below for information and to decide which session(s) to attend.

Read more about the DOT’s Justice40 efforts. If you have questions about the meetings or Justice40, contact equity@dot.gov.

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Register Now for a Webinar on the Emergency Rental Assistance Program

Source: Administration for Community Living (ACL)

Are you serving people at risk of eviction or who have been evicted? Are you working with landlords whose tenants are behind on rent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you serve people facing housing instability or economic hardships?

If you answered, “yes,” to any of those questions, then this webinar is for you! Join the Administration for Community Living, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on September 30 at 11:00 am ET to learn about tools and information you need to help the people you serve to learn more about and apply for Emergency Rental Assistance resources.

Registration is required, and the webinar will be recorded. If you have any questions, please send an email to HSRC@acl.hhs.gov.

NCIL Statement on the Overturning of the Eviction Moratorium

Late yesterday, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision that the housing eviction moratorium from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was improper. The housing eviction moratorium was an order from the CDC to the people who lease or sell housing. It ordered them to let people who could not pay their rent or their house payments because of COVID stay in their houses. Eviction is the legal process used to remove people from their housing.

The decision from the Supreme Court means that housing providers can take action to remove people from their housing, even if they have not been able to pay rent because of COVID. As many as 7 million households could lose their housing, as they are currently at least one month behind on payments. Most of the families at risk of losing their housing are households of color, people with disabilities and other marginalized groups.

For disabled and aging people, losing permanent housing is especially hard. For many people, it will mean we have to go into an institution. We will not be able to find housing that is usable if we need accessible features.  Homeless shelters are often not usable if we need accessible toilet or showers, or need to bring someone with us to help us with our daily tasks. And during COVID, leaving private housing to go into any type of group settings, whether it is a homeless shelter, a state hospital, a group home, or a nursing facility, puts many of us at risk of getting sick with COVID.

What can we do? Centers for Independent Living and Statewide Independent Living Councils can help through our core services of systems and individual advocacy. Here are some ways our network can help disabled and aging people respond to this crisis:

Systems Advocacy

It is widely reported that delays at the local and state levels have meant that emergency rental assistance is not getting to the people who need it. Advocates need to work with state and local agencies to make sure they are not making the process overly complicated, and are moving quickly to get these funds to help people.  See this spreadsheet for more information on how your community is using Emergency Rental Assistance funds from the US Department of the Treasury.

If your state or local government have not issued eviction moratoriums at the state or local level, advocate to get those put into place.

Join in the advocacy asking the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to issue an eviction moratorium for renters who live in housing that gets federal assistance, such as public housing, or Section 8 housing.  People living in foreclosed homes backed by a federal mortgage are protected from eviction until Sept 30, 2021 although the loan still can be foreclosed.

Individual Advocacy

Help people who are at risk of losing their housing talk to the landlords or mortgage holders. Ask if they can stay in the housing if they can find a way to pay part of the rent or the back-owed rent. Get any agreements in writing.

Help connect people with emergency rental assistance programs. Advocates can look for local programs at this website from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Help people reach out to their members of Congress. The member of Congress may be able to help connect the person to resources. More importantly, the member of Congress will hear about the real issues facing the people at home in their districts. 

Support the ASAP Act in Congress!

Access to public transportation has consistently been identified as a priority by NCIL members. While progress has been made, major barriers to achieving accessible public transportation remain. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) stated that, as of 2019, 20% of all public transit stations in the US failed to meet accessibility criteria.

In an effort to remedy some of the barriers people with disabilities face, Senator Duckworth has introduced the All Station Accessibility Program (ASAP) Act of 2021 (S. 1680). The ASAP Act would establish a grant program to improve the accessibility of rail systems by increasing the number of existing stations or facilities for passenger use that meet or exceed the Americans with Disabilities Act’s construction standards. The program would appropriate $10 billion over 10 years for these grants.

Access Living, a Center for Independent Living in Chicago, IL, is leading efforts to get the ASAP Act passed into law.  They are looking for organizations to join the ASAP Act’s list of supporters and for individuals to email their members of Congress.

If you sign up, you will also receive occasional action alerts and updates on the bill’s progress. You can contact asmock@accessliving.org if you have any questions.

For more information, including additional background on the ASAP Act and a full list of organizational supporters, visit Access Living’s ASAP Act web page.

IL-NET T&TA Center Presents… A National Webinar: How CILs Can (and Should!) Support Consumers Experiencing Homelessness

June 30, 2021; 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern

Register online

People with disabilities experience homelessness at alarming rates. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reports that among adults using shelters, 49% report having a disability. Of course, not all unhoused people use shelters and many disabilities go undisclosed, so the actual rates are likely significantly higher. The rate of disability is also much higher within certain groups, like unhoused veterans. Centers for Independent Living (CILs) must support people experiencing homelessness if they want to reach all of the people with disabilities in their community. Virtually every CIL has served someone experiencing or at risk of homelessness, but join us on June 30th to hear from two CILs who have made concerted efforts to meet unhoused consumers where they are and provide housing and other IL supports.

This is a critical conversation and our panelists have excellent real-world resources and solutions to share. Don’t miss it!

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Update from the NCIL Housing Subcommittee: Public Housing Agencies and the Section 8 Homeownership Program

For many people with disabilities, it can be very challenging to find housing, even when one has a Section 8 Voucher. Many housing options are not accessible, or out of reach with a rent that is too high for the voucher. There is another option that one doesn’t hear about often, the Section 8 Homeownership Program that assists with the purchase of a home using the Housing Choice Voucher.

The Homeownership Voucher Program was authorized in 1937, although the final rule was not issued until 2000! There were 15 Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) that participated in the pilot homeownership program that began in 1999.

The rule says a PHA may give assistance to an eligible household to buy their own homes, not just to rent. Homeownership can be a great choice for some people with disabilities, such as a person with environmental hypersensitivities or for other people who cannot be accommodated in available rental housing units due to their disabilities.

People who have had a voucher for at least a year can transfer their voucher to a different jurisdiction, and this can apply to the homeownership program, too. People could purchase a house in a different PHA’s jurisdiction, if it offers the Homeownership Voucher Program and is accepting new families.

Find out whether the Homeownership Program is offered in your area (Excel spreadsheet). If your PHA does not have a program, it may be possible to request that they offer homeownership assistance as a reasonable accommodation, if it can be demonstrated that housing available for rent is not accessible or usable by the family, and that an accommodation is necessary. For households where the head, spouse, or sole member is elderly or has a disability, the voucher is good for the entire term of the mortgage. For other households with a 30-year mortgage, the voucher would be available for a maximum of 15 years. It’s important to note that the PHA can only work with people who currently have vouchers or are on the waiting list. They can’t have a separate waiting list or preference for voucher applicants interested in homeownership.

If the PHAs in your area doesn’t have a homeownership program, consider advocating so they make that option available.