the advocacy monitor

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

Housing & Transportation

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 [email protected] 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:

We would like to encourage those of you who are wheelchair users who are interested to try this service and send feedback us at [email protected]. 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.

CIL-NET Presents… A National On-Location Training: How CILs Can Transform the Housing Landscape

We hope you will join us for this exciting 3½ day training on the most pressing barrier to independent living: housing. We will explore a wide range of solutions to expand accessible, affordable, integrated housing in your communities. From funding, to building partnerships, to the truly new and innovative, we will cover it all. You won’t want to miss this!

[Read more…]

Save the Date! CIL-NET Presents… A National On-Location Training: How CILs Can Transform the Housing Landscape

  • June 11-14, 2019
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • Registration Fee: $150.00

We hope you will save the date for this exciting 3½ day training on the most pressing barrier to independent living: housing. We will explore a wide range of solutions to expand accessible, affordable, integrated housing in your communities. From funding, to building partnerships, to the truly new and innovative, we will cover it all. You won’t want to miss this!

This CIL-NET on-location training is part of Our Homes: IL-NET’s series of trainings and resources on accessible, affordable, integrated housing for Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs). The lack of accessible, affordable, integrated housing remains the biggest obstacle as CILs implement the new core services of transition and diversion. Expanding housing is a key component of the provision of CIL core services and successful outcomes for consumers.

Registration will open in early March. Check your inbox and for updates.

[Read more…]