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We are Beyond A Housing Crisis!
by Teresa Anderson, MPH


Story after story after story! We set out to learn more about the housing needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in California and what we found is story after story about the challenges of finding safe, affordable and accessible housing options.  I had the honor of interviewing Patti Uplinger, Housing Specialist in the Sacramento area. Patti is the Executive Director for Housing Now, which is a non-profit organization that plays a vital role in securing safe, affordable and accessible housing for developmentally disabled persons in the greater Sacramento region. In addition she works with several other coalitions and organizations - Lanterman Housing Alliance, Sacramento Housing Alliance, Sacramento Self Help Housing, California Disability Community Action Network (just to name a few) - to advocate for the housing needs of people with IDD.  

We started the interview with a few basic questions but I quickly realized my questions were barely scratching the surface of the housing issues for people with IDD so for the most part I ditched the questions and took the opportunity to listen and learn.  As we got into the issue of affordable housing and housing options, specifically for people who rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the word "option" took on an entirely different meaning. Option implies choice and the reality is there is very little (if any) when it comes to safe, affordable and accessible housing for people with IDD. SSI is what most people with IDD rely on to meet their housing and living needs. Patti described the options - public housing, housing choice vouchers or units from non-profit housing developers - and the limited inventory of these options. In the Sacramento area there are waiting lists, sometimes 2 - 3 years long, for these housing units.  Assuming one of the units comes available the next hurdle is to determine if it is safe and accessible. For example, many of the public housing units were built in the 1950's and although some updates have occurred they are not truly accessible - wide hallways to accommodate wheelchairs, ramps, safety bars, etc., or perhaps the unit is an upstairs unit and there is no elevator. 

People using the housing choice vouchers are facing a serious disadvantage in the rental market because the voucher rates set by Housing and Urban Development Agency (HUD) have not kept pace with fair market value so more and more landlords are choosing not to accept vouchers. In fact, there are several accounts of property owners not renewing leases or terminating month-to-month rental agreements so they can increase the rent, ultimately displacing people with a housing choice voucher. Unfortunately people with IDD are disproportionately affected by the reduction in the willingness to accept Housing Choice Vouchers because of their extremely limited housing options to begin with. 

I asked Patti what she felt the greatest challenge(s) was to finding housing for people with IDD and her top three were; competition, lack of housing inventory and of course discrimination. A recent conversation she had with a property manager revealed that they had 300 emails for one apartment. The competition is unreal and according to Patti, discrimination is alive and well when it comes to renting to people with IDD. In an effort to combat this pervasive discrimination part of Housing Now's mission is to educate the community about the living needs of people with IDD, provide outreach about current housing policy and advocacy opportunities and partner with affordable housing agencies to expand options for people with IDD to obtain safe and affordable housing. 

As we ended the interview I inquired about thoughts on possible solutions to the affordable housing crisis and her first response was "WE ARE BEYOND A HOUSING CRISIS...WE ARE IN A STATE OF EMERGENCY".  That said, she believes there are some things that can be done to help reduce some of the barriers and challenges for people with IDD seeking housing. Policies need to be changes to exempt people with IDD from the requirement of having 2-3 times rent in the bank, having a credit score greater than 600, creating agreements to accept co-signors and third party checks from payee services as these are all barriers to housing for independent or supported living options.  Also, we need to look at policies that include bridge funding for that would provide money to hold a property for a couple weeks while the housing paperwork if being completed or emergency funding to supplement for security deposits or monthly differential payments.

A huge THANK YOU to Patti for generosity with her time and expertise. The need for affordable housing is astronomical and crisis is real, even more so for people with IDD. On any given week Patti takes approximately 20 calls a week (the majority of which are people with IDD) of people in need of housing. I urge everyone to take a few minutes to learn more about Housing Now and supporting their advocacy efforts at: http://housingnowresource.org.  

Other housing resources Patti suggested include those listed below (some are regional specific). Given the magnitude of the affordable housing discussion we will provide a series of articles and resources in an effort to raise awareness and advocacy on this issue.


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Teresa Anderson,
Prevention Coordinato




New Report Proposes Changes to California's Early Intervention Services
Jordan Lindsey,
Executive Director, 
The Arc CA

The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) is a non-partisan government agency that provides fiscal and policy advice to the California legislature.  In addition to analyzing the Governor's Budget one of the responsibilities of the LAO is to prepare special reports on various topics of interest to the Legislature. On January 4, 2017, the LAO released its report Evaluating California's System for Serving Infants and Toddlers with Special Needs. The report reviews, assesses, and makes recommendations for changing California's early intervention system, serving more than 40,000 infants and toddlers with special needs.  To read the report visit:

In the next week The Arc & UCP California Collaborative will analyze the report and develop necessary responses.





Think Big Organizing
Tim Hornbecker,
Director of Advocacy & Community Organizing

Authors Becky Bond and Zack Exley worked for a SuperPac, Political Campaigns and social justice movements to learn new ways of mass community organizing. They acknowledged Rules for Radicals written in 1971 by Saul Alinsky, but emphasized the need to move on. Instead, they offer their own rules for revolutionaries to learn new tactics and strategies for literally a political revolution now. Thus the title of their book, Rules for Revolutionaries.*

As I picked up their book during the recent holidays, I listened to their experience with some of the political campaigns like Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama.  Digital campaigning was combined with field efforts, tech enabled and people powered. One campaign won, the other didn't win the primary, but both allowed people to work with hundreds of thousands of volunteers to create a more just world. Instead of large donations from wealthy donors, $50 contributions from millions of individuals supported these campaigns. Of course they also mentioned other big organizing efforts like the Tea Party organizing, Occupy Wall Street, the Native American tribes and the North Dakota Pipeline, and movements to defend black lives. 

But I was especially interested in their conclusion from research showing that TV ads, automated robocalls, direct mail, and big money weren't the main influencing factors in elections, but instead big grassroots organizing. Volunteers going door to door and talking to people on their doorsteps, or calling them on the phone!  That's exactly what happened in Alabama with the incredibly large number of volunteers canvassing their neighborhoods and helping to change the outcome of an election that was supposed to lose. Definitely big organizing!

That's why The Arc asks all of you to personally meet with people, phone people, including your legislators.  We need to share our personal stories, our values, and our sense of social justice for the rights of people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and their families. We also need to Think Big Organizing!

*Rules for Revolutionaries, How Big Organizing Can Change Everything, by Becky Bond and Zack Exley, Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, Vermont




CUTTING THROUGH THE FOG
A Self-Advocacy Column by Eric Gmeinder

Eric Gmeiner,
Guest Writer
I'm Alone, But It's Just as Well

I've written before about how reclusive I used to be, and most people with autism are, and the struggles of being unable to make friends now that I want them. But I've since learned through other accounts that there's nothing unusual about that struggle, that it truly is harder to make friends as an adult. (Still, if I were steadily employed in the job of my dreams - a scenario I'm working towards - the chances would probably still be greater.)

For the time being, I've decided to no longer actively pursue either a romantic relationship or new friendships. It was a tough choice to make, especially since I feel better off without most people I run into around Sacramento. (People tell me it will take several more years to move away, so I'm formulating a survival plan in the meantime.)

Instead, I've decided to practice being the best friend or husband around, so that I am when the time comes. I've spent infinitely more time thinking about my legendary near-encounter with someone I was attracted to in a restaurant than it actually took to happen. This was the event that persuaded me to actively better my social skills. As such, had they been single (they may not have been) and I been able to control the butterflies in my stomach, I don't think we would have gotten very far. After beginning to study social skills, I think I would have left something to be desired.

Autism rights activists have it halfway right. They rail against how society unjustly spreads negative stereotypes about them and keeps them in the closet. But they also rail against all intervention and don't consider how their symptoms may affect others. I feel like I've done a really good job of managing my symptoms without selling out to the rhetoric of anti-autism groups. I think others can do the same, and they can apply it to a major life goal, like mine to meet new people.



FOCUS ON:
Announcing the Direct Support Professional Workforce Development (DSP) Toolkit



This new tool addresses several resources that chapters of The Arc, as well as individuals with disabilities and their family members can use to find and retain quality direct support professionals. Developed for The Arc by the Research and Training Center on Community Living at the University of Minnesota, the toolkit provides tools and resources that are essentially free and available for download, including a realistic job preview, public service announcements, DSP targeted marketing flyers, and more. 

Take a look at the DSP Toolkit and get started on finding the direct support professional help that is right for you!



SIGN UP FOR OUR NATIONAL ACTION ALERTS
  
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UPCOMING
 
 

March 11-13, 2018
The Arc & UCP California Public Policy Conference, Sacramento, CA

Scholarship Applications to The Arc's Summer Leadership Institute and Professional Development Seminar
Opens February 2, 2018 

Disability Policy Seminar in Washington D.C.
DC - April 23-25

 
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FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES



 
The purpose of the ARRT program (funded through NIDILRR's Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program) is to provide advanced research training and experience to individuals with doctorates, or similar advanced degrees, who have clinical or other relevant experience. ARRT projects train rehabilitation researchers (including those with disabilities) with particular attention to research areas that support the implementation and objectives of the Rehabilitation Act and that improve the effectiveness of services under this law.

In recognition that some service providers need to take steps towards modifying their services to come into compliance with the HCBS rules by March 2022, the 2017 Budget Act contains $15 million to fund necessary changes. 

Disparity Funds Program
$11 million to the Department to assist regional centers in the implementation of strategies to reduce purchase of service disparities.

National Council on Disability
$150,000

Services for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
The purpose of this project is to increase community integration and independence of individuals with developmental disabilities and to improve the quality of home and community-based services (HCBS) by developing and testing one or more model approaches of a coordinated and comprehensive system that includes two interrelated core components for enhancing and assuring the independence, integration, safety, health, and well-being of individuals living in the community: (1) Community Monitoring and (2) Community Capacity Building. 
HHS 

More Grants Can Be Found at https://www.acl.gov/grants


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CAREER LADDER
The Arc of California posts job announcements in the Career Ladder section every week because we would like to contribute to steering quality candidates to professional positions that support people with disabilities and we are trying to communicate to Direct Support Professionals that there is a "career ladder" in their chosen profession.
 
California Foundation for Independent Living Centers
Executive Director, $85,000 to $95,000
Interested in leading the California Foundation of Independent Living Centers to accomplish its mission of increasing access and equal opportunity for people with disabilities by building the capacity of Independent Living Centers? Apply for this job to be a catalyst in the advancement of the Independent Living Movement in California!


Children's Services Division annually supports almost 700 children with intellectual and developmental delays and behavioral health needs and their families.

The Dale Law Firm is a law office in central Contra Costa County that is dedicated to assisting persons with disabilities and their families to provide quality of life through utilization of special needs trusts. The Dale Law Firm is very active in a number of education activities including webinars, presentations for disability groups as well as professional organizations that serve persons with disabilities.

The Executive Director is accountable for the legal, safe, and effective operation of all activities and programs of the agency.  Responsibilities include association-wide fiscal management, personnel management, business compliance, long-range planning, program management and evaluation. 

The Chief Executive Officer/President enables PWI to adapt to and influence a dynamic environment. Working with and reporting to the Board of Directors, this role helps set policy and strategic leadership in concert with the mission, vision, purposes, and values of the organization. The CEO/President serves as the principal external representative of the organization and manages internal systems and complex processes of the organization to achieve effective and efficient operations. This position also directs budget development, fiscal responsibility and assures successful financial performance.

The Executive Director supports and advances the regional center's Vision and Strategic Plan and ensures that the operations and services of the regional center are aligned with that Vision and Plan. Under the policy direction of the Board of Directors, the Executive Director provides leadership to the staff and community, plans, organizes, develops and directs the operations and services of the regional center in accordance with the law, state regulations and the provisions of the Regional Center's contract with the California Department of Developmental Disabilities (DDS). 

Executive Director position open for Resources for Independence Central Valley (RICV). RICV is located in Fresno, CA and provides independent living services for five counties in Central California. It has numerous funding sources including grants and fee-for-service programs. Excellent salary and benefits for the Central California area.

The Legislative Advocate 2 is part of the legislative unit for the organization and is responsible for legislative advocacy activities. The person identifies, monitors and advocates for legislative activities that affect Californians with disabilities.

Would you like to advocate for the employment, independence and equality for people with disabilities? Are you interested in joining a council that ensures consumers and other stakeholders have a voice in California's vocational rehabilitation program? If so, then a position on the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) may be for you! The SRC is recruiting for three perspective members representing:
  • The business, industry and labor community,
  • Disability advocacy groups, and,
    A current or former Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) consumer.
The Supported Life Institute seeks a Self Advocacy Project Coordinator that will work with, facilitate, empower and support dedicated self-advocates and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and advisors and facilitators involved with Self Advocacy Chapters throughout the Sacramento region in the Peer Advocacy Connection Project (PAC) and the Facilitation Services Project (FSP).   To learn about these important programs visit the SLI website at: http://supportedlife.org    and click on the Peer Advocacy Connection link. If this position matches your goals and interests, please email: dfaletti@supportedlife.org
. for a full job description.  No phone calls please

 
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The Arc of California, 1225 8th Street, Suite 350, Sacramento, CA 95814.  Office (916) 552-6619, Fax (916) 441-3494