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

Housing & Transportation

Rural Transportation: A Vermont Perspective

By Peter Johnke, NCIL Transportation Subcommittee Co-Chair

If you live in a rural area and don’t own a car or are unable to drive, getting from one place to another may be a challenge (at best) or impossible (at worst), if public transit doesn’t exist where you live or work. People with disabilities face many barriers to transportation and in rural areas, it can be particularly difficult.

In Vermont, there are ten different transit providers, each with their own system of routes and fares. Only the most populated area has ADA Complimentary Paratransit. Other regions use Deviated Fixed Routes and Demand Response Routes to meet the needs of people who need accessible transportation. If transit exists in your area, traveling locally may not be too difficult. But it becomes much more challenging when traveling from one region to another. Except for a few commuter routes and some intrastate routes, it’s very difficult to get from one region of the state to another. Yet, this is often necessary for employment, medical appointments, and even shopping. In Vermont, crossing county lines is routine. Accessible transportation is problematic for evenings, weekends, and holidays though.  [Read more…]

Action Alert: Urge Congress to Oppose Housing Cuts!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about President Trump’s budget, which cuts the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 13%, or 6.2 billion dollars. This is just a rough draft; there are no line items available yet, which should also show more changes.

The budget blueprint announced the White House’s intention to eliminate the following programs:

  • Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)
  • HOME Partnership Program
  • Choice Neighborhoods (formerly HOPE VI)
  • NeighborWorks America
  • Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program
  • Section 4 Capacity Building for Community Development and Affordable Housing Program (which funds organizations like Local Initiatives Support Corp.)
  • U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness

According to analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the other programs impacted are:

  • Housing Choice Vouchers (a loss of 200,000 vouchers projected)
  • Cuts to Section 202 (Supportive Housing for the Elderly) and Section 811 (Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities)
  • Cuts to public housing funding, meaning that more than $26 billion in repair needs probably won’t happen

Housing has had strong bipartisan support in the past, so it is unlikely that Congress will follow all of the proposed cuts or eliminations. Nonetheless, we still must pressure Congress to not accept ANY of them!

But the real danger is that there is another source of pressure for cuts to housing: The Budget Control Act of 2011. It was begun as an agreement to reduce the budget with automated spending caps applied equally to defense and to domestic programs. In 2018, under the Budget Control Act, $14 billion would be cut (Trump’s budget cuts another $54 billion) compared to 2017. However, some in Congress have been seeking to circumvent this agreement by having higher cuts in domestic programs to fund increased defense spending. This is where the real fight will be happening.

Take Action

Call your Representative and your Senators to ask them to oppose cuts to housing! Ask them to oppose all of President Trump’s proposed program eliminations, to increase funding for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, and to eliminate the public housing backlog on capital needs.

Federal Transportation 2017: What to Watch for and How to Take Action

For 2017, transportation advocates in the disability community will need to watch and take action as needed under the new Trump Administration on the following issues.

Comprehensive Transportation Funding Package: In December 2015, Congress passed and President Obama signed a five year reauthorization bill called the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. Candidate Trump called for increased investment in transportation and infrastructure. While no one believes that President Trump will undo the FAST Act, what type of additional funding package will occur, particularly with the current makeup of Congress and a mixed economy?

First Federal Budget: This should come out shortly. Areas to watch include the T-HUD funds (Transportation and Housing), which include Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funding where communities access significant dollars for curb cuts. Will this budget proposal include all modes, primary areas of interest to the disability community, and those who support them by providing additional funds for mass transit and/or paratransit, Amtrak and other venues?

Department Of Justice and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Enforcement: How does the perspective Attorney General Jeff Sessions (unconfirmed as of publication) view the ADA? What efforts will be made to enforce it? How aggressive will compliance efforts (fines, sanctions, required trainings, upgrades) be, and how will they impact accessibility of transit, Amtrak, taxis, Transportation Networking Companies (TNCs such as Uber and Lyft), airports, boats, private buses?  [Read more…]

State News: ODOT and Disability Rights Oregon Join Forces to Make Oregon’s Transportation System More Accessible to People with Disabilities

Source: ODOT / DRO Joint Press Release (PDF)

Salem, OR – In the largest commitment to an accessible transportation system in state history, the Oregon Department of Transportation, Disability Rights Oregon and the Association of Oregon Centers for Independent Living have reached a proposed agreement which will make the state highway system more accessible to those with disabilities. The agreement settles a February 2016 federal lawsuit against ODOT by the Association of Oregon Centers for Independent Living, and eight individuals with mobility and visual impairments throughout the State of Oregon that alleged noncompliance with Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

“ODOT is making an enhanced commitment to ensure that mobility and accessibility are key elements in its mission to provide a safe and efficient transportation system,” said Tammy Baney, chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission. “Providing adequate curb ramps and pedestrian signals for those with disabilities helps improve the livability of our communities,” said Baney and “honors their rights under federal disability laws.”  [Read more…]

Action Alert: Sign A Letter of Support for the Access Living ADA Lawsuit Against Uber!

  • Deadline: 12:00 Noon Central Time; Monday, October 17, 2016

The Access Living ADA lawsuit against Uber regarding wheelchair accessible rides has been widely covered in the press.

Access Living (of Metropolitan Chicago) has organized a sign on letter regarding access to transportation, including transit in the new economy. Please join Access Living in making a public statement for cross-disability solidarity. Access Living believes that advocating for transit access cannot leave some groups behind, even as other disability groups may have benefited from new transit choices.

Once the signatures are gathered, the letter will be made public in order to demonstrate the seriousness of holding transit services accountable under the ADA. Access Living is asking for national, state and local groups to sign on to the letter below.

If your organization is willing to sign on, please email Amber Smock at asmock@accessliving.org with the appropriate full name of your group by 12:00 Noon Central on Monday, October 17. The letter will be made public on Tuesday, October 18.

Letter of Support:

We the undersigned organizations, affirm and support the right of people with disabilities to travel services under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. For decades, transportation issues have been at the forefront of our movement for independence and civil rights in the United States. People with disabilities have the moral and legal right to equivalent transit services, including, but not limited to, rideshare services like Uber.

Furthermore, we emphasize that transit services must serve ALL people with disabilities as defined by the ADA, not just some of us. While new developments in the transit industry have benefited some people with disabilities, these developments have left others out of the mainstream of American life, effectively relegating them to social isolation and invisibility. We, like others in our society, have employment, family, social and civic obligations that require us to be able to travel in a speedy and affordable fashion. The current status quo is not acceptable. It is long past time to ensure equivalent ride service for all. Disability transit considerations should always be part of the original planning of systems, not an afterthought.

We, the undersigned, support the efforts of Access Living and other groups to hold transit services accountable for serving people with disabilities.

Signatories to Date:

  • Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago
  • ADA Legacy Project
  • Brazoria County Center for Independent Living
  • Center for Disability Rights
  • Chicago Hearing Society, a division of Anixter Center
  • Disability Policy Consortium of Massachusetts
  • Disability Rights Center
  • Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
  • Disability Rights Oregon
  • National Council on Independent Living
  • National Council on Independent Living Region 6 – New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas and Louisiana
  • Northwest Down Syndrome Association
  • Road to Freedom Bus Tour
  • Texas Disability Project

Medicaid Transportation: An Update from the NCIL Transportation Subcommittee

Transportation for people with disabilities can be a complex issue. One of the more confusing areas is Medicaid Transportation, also referred to Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Services (NEMTS), which may also have a different name, depending on which state you live in. Each state has Medicaid transportation programs, transportation covered as a part of an individual state’s particular Medicaid Waivers, including managed care (long term, behavioral or other types) and also reimburses Medicaid recipients for use of private vehicles for allowable expenses under NEMT. We wish to provide some basic information here.

What it is: The Kaiser Foundation and CMS – The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (PDF) provide explanations of program, particularly how benefits may vary among states. Contact your state’s lead agency on Medicaid for further information.

Who is eligible: See pages 3 (included parties) and 12 (excluded parties) in CMS Guide (PDF) and the links above for your state. Medicaid covers low income populations of all ages and many people with disabilities. Advocates should also check with their individual state for further specifics, since CMS grants some measure of flexibility on covered benefits. One recent change that states have been struggling with and the impact on overall transportation costs is still unclear is the Medicaid Expansion to additional populations (PDF) under the Affordable Care Act, which would increase the number eligible consumers for a Medicaid Transportation benefit.

What it covers: Medicaid transportation benefits covered under your state’s Medicaid Plan, which must be approved by CMS. See general information on states and contact your state’s designated Medicaid agency[Read more…]

Webinar: Partnerships with Faith-based & Community Organizations to Support Inclusive Coordinated Transportation & Mobility Management

  • October 25, 2016; 3:00 p.m. Eastern
  • Register online to receive more information and reminders about this webinar

This Webinar is hosted by the National Center for Mobility Management and the ACL Inclusive Coordinated Transportation Partnerships Project, in cooperation with the Federal Transit Administration, and the U.S. Department of HHS Administration for Community Living (ACL) as well as their Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships (The Partnership Center). Attendees will:

  • Learn about strategies to reach out to faith-based and community organizations and national initiatives that can support your work;
  • Hear about partnerships that have been established with non-traditional – non-transit organizations such as religious organizations; and
  • Acquire resources regarding how to develop and sustain relationships.

National Aging and Disability Transportation Center Announces Grant Opportunity Funding Innovations in Accessible Mobility

The National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC) invites applications for development of program innovations that increase accessible transportation options for older adults and people with disabilities and maximize the utilization of FTA’s Enhanced Mobility of Seniors & Individuals with Disabilities (Section 5310) program and other federal funding investments. The grants of up to $50,000 each, which will be awarded to as many as six communities for a 12-month period, support program innovations and approaches that increase accessible transportation options for those groups. The NADTC is an FTA-funded technical assistance center that works to further the availability and accessibility of transportation options for older adults, people with disabilities and caregivers.

Eligible applicants include public transit agencies; councils of government; metropolitan planning organizations; tribal agencies, Area Agencies on Aging; Community Action Agencies; Centers for Independent Living; ARCs (Intellectual Disability service organizations); and community organizations involved in the administration, delivery or coordination of public transit, human services transportation, aging, or disability services. Apply before August 26, 2016. For more information, contact Eileen Miller, NADTC Senior Program Associate at (202) 872-0888.

August 10th Teleconference for NADTC Innovations in Accessible Mobility Grant Applicants

Join National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC) staff on August 10 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern for an informational teleconference about the NADTC Mobility Grants. NADTC will address questions about grant scope, funding and the grant application process. Applicants should plan to participate.

  • Dial-in: 888.599.4876
  • Passcode: 8816955

CIL-NET Presents… A National Onsite Training – Affordable, Accessible, Integrated Housing: Expanding Options for People with Disabilities

CIL-NET Presents… A National Onsite Training:

August 23-25, 2016; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Register online or by using the printable registration form (PDF)

Registration Fee: $150.00

  • Registration Deadline: Extended to August 15, 2016
  • Guestroom Reservation Deadline: Extended to August 12, 2016

IL-NET Logo - CIL-NET + SILC-NETCIL-NET is organizing this outstanding training opportunity to make sure that you and your co-workers are equipped to help individuals find housing, all while increasing the stock of affordable, accessible, integrated housing in your community!

Please join us in Pittsburgh this summer to learn from leading housing experts in Independent Living and housing.

Target Audience

CIL Administrators, Housing Specialists, Advocates and others concerned with increasing the availability of integrated, affordable, accessible housing for persons with disabilities.  [Read more…]

PVA Air Travel Survey for Passengers with Disabilities

The purpose of this survey by Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) is to help members of the Department of Transportation’s Advisory Committee on Accessible Air Transportation (ACCESS Advisory Committee) in their efforts to develop specific regulations regarding whether the Department should require an accessible lavatory (restroom) on a single aisle aircraft. To assist the committee, please complete the survey.

Preliminary results are due back to the ACCESS committee on July 22, however the survey will be open until August 1 and all respondents will be counted. Please contact Paralyzed Veterans of America with any questions.