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

Housing & Transportation

Urgent: Action Needed to Stop Damage to Fair Housing – Deadline: Midnight, Monday, October 15

Access to housing is one of the top disability issues across the country. Did you know that more than half of housing discrimination complaints filed with the federal government are because of disability discrimination?

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingToday, we need your help to defend disability rights and access to housing. “Fair housing” is the term used for enforcement of equal access to housing, without discrimination. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is currently waging an attack on fair housing by opening up its own rule on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) to revisions that could damage the disability housing rights we have won so far, and your voice is needed.

We need to flood HUD with comments supporting the 2015 rule on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) that exposes and addresses our nation’s history of government-led segregation and inequitable community investment, and requires jurisdictions to create policies and programs to address it. The 2015 rule also requires real community engagement by HUD, and that must also happen.

For those of you who represent an organization, we ask you to take 3 easy but important steps today:

  1. Use our template letter (Word document), modify with your own thoughts and comments, and submit to HUD via regulations.gov by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Monday October 15th. Be sure to edit the [bolded] portions with your organization’s information before submitting.
  2. Encourage others within your network to do the same.

For those of you representing yourself as an individual, you can also use the same link to submit comments. We urge you to focus on explaining why it is important to end discrimination in housing.

Comments are due by midnight on Monday, October 15.

Thank you to our friends at Access Living for providing this information.

Use NLIHC Report as Tool for Advocacy!

The National Low Income Housing Coalition has released a report, Getting Started: First Homes Being Built with 2016 National Housing Trust Fund Awards (PDF). As many of you know, the National Housing Trust Fund was first created in 2008, but not funded until 2016. It is a program that provides “new money” to affordable housing, and unique because it focuses most of the money on Extremely Low Income households, those at or below 30% of Area Median Income, and those who rent. $174 million was allocated to states and territories in 2016, and the fruits of that allocation are finally showing in many states. Despite the funding being released in 2016, many states are lagging because they were not ready to move.

equal housing opportunity symbolThis report is an opportunity for advocates to see what is happening elsewhere, to compare how your state is doing. For example, 24 states specifically included people with disabilities as a beneficiary of the trust fund, with 5 states choosing to focus exclusively on housing people with disabilities. Some states chose to spread out the money with other funding sources such as Low Income Housing Tax Credits, while others chose to focus their money on fewer units for more deep subsidies.

Take this opportunity to look at where the housing trust fund money is being spent in your state – are you happy with their priorities? NLIHC is a great resource on this.  [Read more…]

CIL-NET & SILC-NET Present… A National Teleconference & Webinar: Expanding Housing Options in Your Community

This webinar is part of Our Homes: IL-NET’s series of trainings and resources on accessible, affordable, integrated housing for CILs & SILCs.

September 20, 2018; 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern

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

IL-NET Logo - CIL-NET + SILC-NETHousing is such a persistent barrier to independence for so many people with disabilities. It often seems that no matter what we do to “find” housing, it just is not enough. Join us this September as we explore how Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs) can be involved in expanding housing options. We will share the policies that impact housing choice, identify funding sources for housing, and suggest collaboration strategies and partners that could lead to new housing opportunities in your community.

This is the first of a series of trainings and resources that IL-NET will be offering on accessible, affordable, integrated housing. Don’t miss this kick-off event!

Registration Fee: $75.00. Fee is per site (connection) and does not apply per participant; registrants are encouraged to gather as many individuals as desired to participate by telephone.  [Read more…]

TNCs are Great, Unless You’re in a Wheelchair

Scott M. Crawford, Ph.D., Accessible Transportation Advocate

While watching the evening news, I couldn’t help but notice a highly polished advertisement from UBER’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi called “Moving Forward”. In the sixty-second piece, Mr. Khosrowshahi says that his “…priority has been to listen to you, to cities and communities, and to my own employees.” He goes on to say that he’s focusing on changing the “culture” of the corporation and that “One of our core values as a company is to always do the right thing, and if there are times when we fall short, we commit to being open, taking responsibility for the problem, and fixing it.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingReally?

As a person living with multiple sclerosis in Jackson, Mississippi, and needing a power wheelchair for mobility, I can attest that UBER is not listening to me or my colleagues needing accessible vehicles. Historically, Transportation Network Companies (TNCs, or Ride-Hailing Services) pay lip-service to the notion by having an option like UBER WAV, but it is available in only a small number of cities and does not provide anything like the reliable service our able-bodied peers enjoy. It isn’t available at all here in Jackson.

Worse, in many states, TNCs have preempted local authority to enforce equal service. In 2016, the Mississippi Legislature passed just such a law with only the vague assurance that they must “…comply with all the applicable laws regarding nondiscrimination…”. There is nothing explicitly calling for wheelchair-accessible service that is at all equivalent to that provided to everyone else (§37.105).  [Read more…]

TSA Releases 2018 Summer Travel Tips

Source: Office of Civil Rights & Liberties, Ombudsman and Traveler Engagement, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

On behalf of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), I am writing to share some important tips to help you better prepare for security screening and to help TSA keep wait times to a minimum at our Nation’s airport screening checkpoints for the 2018 summer travel season.  Here are a few things you can do:

  • Arrive early to get through security screening—two hours early for domestic and three hours early for international flights. Check with your airline and airport to determine wait times during peak periods. The MyTSA App is also a great resource to help figure out when you should get to the airport.
  • Consider checking your bag: more people and more bags may lead to longer wait times.
  • For your carry-on bag – make sure it’s well organized. It takes time for TSA officers to make sure a cluttered or overstuffed bag is safe.
  • Examples of personal electronic items that would be scanned separately include laptops and electronics larger than a cell phone.  This includes tablets, e-readers, and cameras. Additionally, TSA may provide instructions to remove items from your bag such as foods, powders, and any materials that can clutter bags and obstruct X-ray images.
  • Know the 3-1-1 rule: TSA’s 3-1-1 is shorthand for the liquids rule. Basically, limit your liquids, gels, aerosols and pastes to no more than 3.4 ounces, or 100 milliliters, in 1 bag that’s no bigger than 1 quart. Medically-necessary liquids may exceed this limit, but must be declared prior to commencement of screening. All liquids, including liquids declared as medically-necessary, must be screened.
  • If you must travel with it, know how to safely pack your gun in checked baggage—and NEVER bring it to the TSA checkpoint: Transporting Firearms.
  • Get through the line faster with TSA Precheck, which lets you leave your shoes, belt, and light jacket on while you go through security. You can also leave your laptop and your liquids in your bag. It costs $85 for five years.
  • TSA Cares is a helpline for travelers who want to prepare for the screening process prior to flying. TSA Cares is toll free at 1-855-787-2227 or Federal Relay 711. Travelers may also request the assistance of a Passenger Support Specialist for security screening at TSA Cares.
  • The TSA Disability Notification Card can be used to discreetly notify TSA Officers at security screening of a disability or medical condition and request an accommodation.
  • For general inquiries and questions, visit TSA.gov  or contact us through the TSA Contact Center (TCC) at TSA-ContactCenter@tsa.dhs.gov, or by phone at 866-289-9673 or Federal Relay 711. For additional travel tips, read TSA’s 5 Essential Summer Travel Tips  and follow @AskTSA and @TSA on Twitter and Facebook.

[Read more…]

Share Your Experiences with Accessible Transportation!

The National Council on Independent Living is currently conducting research on our members’ experiences with transportation, and we are seeking information from individuals who have struggled to gain access to accessible transportation. We are looking for several compelling stories to help us mobilize around issues of vehicle accessibility and autonomous vehicles.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingWhile we will be advocating for a comprehensive approach to accessibility, right now we are looking specifically for stories related to the following:

  • Buying and modifying a vehicle for wheelchair access.
  • Arranging accessible ridesharing (Uber and Lyft).
  • Interface access and needs for blind and D/deaf individuals.
  • How wheelchair users manage public transportation (fixed route, paratransit and other modes). Specifically: What your thoughts are about the service? How does it affect your ability to get out in the community?

If you have experienced barriers with any of the above topics, please share your story.

The survey is also available in Word and plaint text and can be emailed back to lindsay@ncil.org. Please share your story and help with this important effort!

Hot Topics – Old Dogs and New Tricks in Peril: Barriers to Mobility and Transportation

An Update from the NCIL Transportation Subcommittee

For people with disabilities to live independently, getting where they need and want to go is vital. Having accessible, affordable transportation services is essential. There are many barriers to transportation that people with disabilities face daily.

With the passage and implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Air Carriers Access Act, progress has been made, but some of those gains are now in peril. Autonomous Vehicles (AVs or self-driving cars) offer great potential as a way to remove some of the barriers to transportation, as well as making travel safer for everyone. Some states already have driverless cars on the road, but none of them are accessible to people who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices.

Over 75 years ago, Guide Dogs for the Blind was started to provide greater independence for people who are blind. More recently, Service Animals have been trained to assist Deaf people, those with epilepsy, traumatic brain injury and other disabilities. These service animals have expanded travel opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities. Support Animals (also called therapy or emotional support animals) are also used by people with a wide variety of disabilities to enable them to be more independent and a part of community life.  [Read more…]

Potential Changes to HUD Mission Statement Causes Concern

Advocate Holds Fair Housing Symbol at 2011 My Medicaid Matters Rally

An Update from the NCIL Housing Subcommittee

Many housing advocates were shocked, speechless, and upset when word came out that Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson was planning to update HUD’s mission statement and remove language relating to housing discrimination and inclusion. This would be a very public statement that HUD no longer considered combating fair housing discrimination against protected classes, including persons with disabilities, a priority. This generated numerous articles, letters, and calls to HUD. NCIL signed on to a letter from the National Fair Housing Alliance (PDF), along with 573 other organizations (164 national organizations; 409 state or local groups; and individuals).

Secretary Carson felt the need to send out a press release and an open letter to HUD employees in an attempt to reassure people that HUD would not abandon combating housing discrimination and fighting for inclusion. He pointed to the idea of fairness, “The ideals of that law, and our continuing work to support them, are really quite simple—fair is fair.”

Unfortunately, different people can have very different idea on what exactly is “fair,” which is why NCIL and other organizations will continue to monitor HUD’s work on updating its mission statement and, more importantly, HUD’s continued effectiveness in combating housing discrimination.

An Update from the NCIL Housing Subcommittee

By Brian Peters & Darrel Christenson, Co-Chairs

Quite a few things have been happening on the housing front in the New Year. On the positive side, Congress passed an $89.3 billion disaster relief package that will provide funding to areas impacted by Hurricane Maria, with money set aside for rebuilding the electrical grids in Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands. Congress also passed a budget deal that lifted the Budget Control Act cap, enabling many programs to avoid cuts.

equal housing opportunity symbolHowever, on the negative side, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Carson delayed the implementation of Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing until 2025, effectively delaying efforts to combat segregation. President Trump’s FY 2019 budget proposes dramatic cuts of $8.8 billion (18.3% cut compared to 2017 levels) to housing programs!

With the two-year budget deal, “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018”, the Appropriations Committee will need to complete the FY 2018 funding bill before their deadline of March 23. Advocates should call Congress to insist on increased funding for housing.

President Trump also proposed getting rid of the National Housing Trust Fund, which is targeted mostly at extremely low-income households that rent. Many households with a person with a disability are considered extremely low income. There is also a push in Congress to reform housing finance (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) which funds the National Housing Trust Fund. It is very possible that the Fund could lose its source of revenue.  [Read more…]

Publication of Waymo Safety Report on Self-Driving Cars

A Message from Waymo

Waymo (formerly the Google Self-Driving Car Project) published its first Safety Report for our fully self-driving technology. Safety is at the core of Waymo’s mission and we believe our technology could save thousands of American lives now lost to traffic crashes every year.

Waymo LogoIn the Report, we detail Waymo’s work on ― and our commitment to ― safety. This overview of our safety program reflects the important lessons learned through the 3.5 million miles Waymo’s vehicles have self-driven on public roads, and billions of miles of simulated driving, over the last eight years. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently issued updated federal guidance for autonomous vehicles, Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety, and the Waymo Safety Report also contains information responsive to DOT’s guidance.

While there is a lot of promotion of self-driving cars these days, there is less discussion about the work that goes into making them capable, reliable, and safe. As the first company to put a fully self-driving car on the road without a driver, in 2015, Waymo has had to write its own playbook. That is why we use a safety-by-design approach ― discussed at greater length in the Report ― that informs everything Waymo does and affects every part of our cars, every step of the way.  [Read more…]