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

Housing & Transportation

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!

[Read more…]

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.

$2.25 Million Compensation Fund Available in Settlement with Amtrak

Today, Amtrak began accepting claims for monetary compensation for people with mobility disabilities who traveled or wanted to travel to or from one of 78 stations and encountered accessibility issues. The Department of Justice (DOJ) put out a press release today with further details including the full list of the 78 stations included in the settlement.

On December 2, 2020, DOJ and Amtrak entered into an agreement. To resolve the department’s findings of disability discrimination, Amtrak will fix inaccessible stations – prioritizing stations with the most significant barriers to access – and pay $2.25 million to victims hurt by inaccessibility at the 78 stations. Amtrak will also: design more accessible stations; train staff on ADA requirements; and implement a process for accepting and handling ADA complaints.

[Read more…]

Recent FTA Announcements: New Funding Opportunity and Matching Funds Webinar

New Funding Opportunity

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA), an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation that provides assistance to local public transportation systems, recently announced a new funding opportunity called the Mobility for All Pilot Program. Approximately $3.5 million will go to projects that enhance mobility and access to community services for older adults, people with disabilities, and people with low income. You can find out more about these grants in the FTA’s notice of funding. Applications are due January 6, 2020.

Matching Funds Requirement Webinar

Under federal law, funds from federal government programs – including many ACL-funded programs like Title VII grants – can be considered “matching funds” for FTA public transit formulary grants. On Thursday, November 21, the FTA and the Administration for Community Living are hosting a webinar entitled Expanding Access to Transportation for Older Adults and People with Disabilities. On the webinar they will discuss how ACL and FTA have partnered to leverage federal investments in  transportation to increase access for people with disabilities and older adults; the new Mobility for All Pilot Program (link above); and the opportunity for FTA applicants to use ACL grants funds spent on transportation to satisfy the 20% match requirement of the FTA grant. Learn more and register online.

NCIL Housing Subcommittee Seeks Input from All CILs Collaborating with Public Housing Authorities

Last September, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded $98.5 million to 285 local public housing authorities across the country to provide permanent affordable housing to nearly 12,000 additional non-elderly people with disabilities. PHAs were encouraged to partner with health & human services agencies.

Centers for Independent Living across the U.S. were encouraged by NCIL to work with their local public housing authorities (PHA) to jointly apply for these funds. The housing assistance is provided through HUD’s Section 811 Mainstream Housing Choice Voucher Program, which provides funding to housing agencies to assist non-elderly people with disabilities who are:

  • transitioning out of institutional or other separated settings;
  • at serious risk of institutionalization;
  • homeless; or
  • at risk of becoming homeless.

The NCIL Housing Subcommittee would like to hear from any Center that applied as a partner with your local PHA to gather more information in the following areas:

[Read more…]

Organizers Forum: Housing and Disability

  • Tuesday, May 21, 2019; 1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern; 12:00-1:00 Central; 11:00-12:00 Mountain; 10:00-11:00 Pacific
  • RSVP
  • Call-in: 1-515-739-1285, passcode 521847#
  • Join the meeting online

Finding affordable and accessible housing has become increasingly hard for people with disabilities. What are advocates and organizers doing on a local and national level about this crisis? Join us for ideas and conversation.

Speakers to be announced.

[Read more…]

Test Uber’s New Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles in Select Cities and Share Your Experiences with NCIL

Uber has been working with MV Transportation to expand access to wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs). These are now available in: New York City; Boston; Philadelphia; Washington, DC; Chicago; San Francisco; and Los Angeles. They have also developed a feedback form for riders’ experiences, which can be found at: t.uber.com/wavfeedback.

We would like to encourage those of you who are wheelchair users who are interested to try this service and send feedback us at lindsay@ncil.org. We are very interested in hearing about anything you’d like to share with us regarding your experiences. Please note that the information shared with us may be shared with Uber, but we will not provide any identifying information.