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Category: Blogs

Join Us to Celebrate The Passage of HB 19-1269, The Mental Health Parity Insurance Bill

Colorado Coalition for Parity

Join us to celebrate the recent passage of HB 19-1269 The Mental Health Parity Insurance Bill

 

September 20th 2019
10:30 AM– 12:00PM

 

Addiction Professionals Day
Tivoli Film Center
University of Colorado – Denver – College of Arts and Media
Auraria Campus
901 Larimer St. Denver, CO 80202

Special recognition of the legislative bill sponsors
Meet Colorado’s new Ombudsman for Behavioral Health Care Access

 

Refreshments

 

The Denver Reel Recovery Film Festival Presented 9/20/19 Tivoli Film Center Immediately following the Parity reception

The Denver Reel Recovery Film Festival
Presented
9/20/19
Tivoli Film Center
Immediately following the
Parity reception

 

SAVE THE DATE! 9/21/19 AFR Colorado Hosts: RALLY FOR RECOVERY Denver Civic Center Park

SAVE THE DATE!
9/21/19
AFR Colorado Hosts:
RALLY FOR RECOVERY
Denver Civic Center Park

 

Guidelines for Creating Accessible Meetings and Events

4 different signs, the first one is for Access for Hearing Loss, the second sign is for Sign Language Interpretation, the third sign is the International Sign for Accessibility and the fouth sign is a Map Pin Point.

 

It is the policy of the State of Colorado that all public meetings and events hosted by or permitted through a State agency are physically and programmatically accessible for all. These guidelines provide organizers with a brief overview of how to plan and stage accessible, inclusive events.

People with disabilities include those with physical, sensory, intellectual, perceptual, and mental health conditions and may require special accommodations to fully participate in public events. People who are older, pregnant, ill, or fatigued may also have accessibility needs. As accommodations may include items not described in these guidelines, organizers may need to do additional research.

 

 

 

STEP 1: PLAN FOR ACCESSIBILITY

  • Designate one person as Disability Coordinator for the event.
  • Strive to include people with disabilities in logistical and program planning.
  • Budget for accommodations, such as certified American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, stage lifts or ramps, and signage and materials in alternative formats.

 

STEP 2: CHOOSE AN ACCESSIBLE LOCATION

    • Assess potential facilities in person and check all areas for accessibility—parking, pathways, entrances, elevators, registration areas, stages, seating, and restrooms.
    • Lifting and carrying any individual does not constitute accessibility!
    • Features of an accessible location include:
      • Stage or speaker’s platform at grade or accessible by elevator, ramp, or lift;
      • Public transportation to site within 200 yards;
      • One accessible parking space and one van accessible parking space per 25 participants;
      • sidewalks to facility at least 36” wide;
      • No routes or pathways with grass, gravel, or a rise more than ½”;
      • Passenger drop off and pick up at entrance;
      • Accessible building entrance, preferably main entrance used by everyone; and
      • Doors at least 32” wide and open to 90° angle.

       

     

    STEP 3: CREATE ACCESSIBLE ANNOUNCEMENTS

      • All notices and announcements for the event or meeting must include a contact person (name, phone number, and email) to request disability accommodations.
      • Include a paragraph detailing accessible meeting information as part of each notice, including meeting agendas, emails, and website postings.
      • Always include the physical address, as it is required by transportation providers.
      • If a map is included, indicate bus or transit stops (if applicable) and accessible parking, seating, toilets, etc.
      • If posted on a website or via email, notices must be screen reader compatible. When posting as an attachment, use a word document or “smart pdf” or include all pertinent information in the body of the email message.

     

     

    STEP 4: CREATE AN ACCESSIBLE EVENT SPACE

      • The stage or speaker’s platform must be at grade or accessible by elevator, ramp, or lift.
      • Use directional and reserved seating signage with international disability symbols.
      • Find temporary signage online by searching for “temporary accessibility signs.”
      • Cover any wires and cords that run along the floor with tape or ramps.
      • For large crowds, provide a quiet space for those who need it.
      • Provide printed programs and other materials in alternative formats, upon request.
      • Accommodations for people with mobility limitations include:
        • Accessible microphones for speakers or presenters;
        • Pathways of at least 36”;
        • Reserved/marked wheelchair and companion seating near front or interspersed in audience;
        • One empty wheelchair space plus one companion chair per 25 participants; and
        • reserved extra chairs for those who may require seating (e.g., those who cannot stand for long periods of time).
      • Accommodations for people who are deaf or hard of hearing include:
        • One or more ASL interpreters for every 100 participants or upon request;
        • Reserved seating or standing area with a direct sight line to interpreter;
        • Interpreter positioned near speaker with adequate lighting and in full view of camera; and
      • For large events, a dedicated camera may be needed to project the interpreter on screen.

       

       

      STEP 5 : ASK FOR HELP

      • If you have questions, you can reach out to your agency’s ADA Coordinator, the Rocky Mountain ADA Center, or the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition.

       

       

      CREATED IN PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE COLORADO CROSS-DISABILITY COALITION AND THE OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR

Press Release: President Trump’s Statement Blaming Gun Violence on People with Mental Health Conditions Is Outrageous, Says National Organization of Mental Health Advocates with “Lived Experience”

For Immediate Release

President Trump’s Statement Blaming Gun Violence on People with Mental Health Conditions Is Outrageous, Says National Organization of Mental Health Advocates with “Lived Experience”

WASHINGTON (August 7, 2019)—The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR), which advocates to improve policies affecting individuals with mental health conditions nationwide, offers its sincere condolences to all those affected by the tragedies in El Paso and Dayton.

At the same time, the NCMHR is disgusted by President Trump’s recent statement in which he conflated perpetrators of violence and people with psychiatric diagnoses.

“As a national organization representing persons with mental health issues—many of whom are trauma survivors—the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery condemns President Trump’s statement blaming people with mental health conditions for gun violence,” said NCMHR co-founder and board president Daniel B. Fisher, MD, PhD, a psychiatrist with lived experience of a mental health condition.

“As the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and numerous studies have reported, people with mental health conditions are the wrong scapegoat after mass shootings,” Dr. Fisher continued. “Instead, frequently the shooter in these tragedies is an isolated, angry white male with an automatic weapon.

“But the President refuses to take responsibility for his central role in ginning up racism and anti-immigrant hatred in countless statements and at numerous rallies over a period of years.
“Economic and social oppression have alienated and disempowered people, putting the American Dream out of reach for many. We need a more economically and socially equitable society to address the roots of society’s anger. It is crucial that we hear, and respect, the voices of people angered by these economic factors, because so many feel unheard and unrespected.

“And we must immediately pass and implement effective gun control laws. When economist Richard Florida examined gun deaths and other social indicators, he found that higher populations, more stress, more immigrants, and more mental illness didn’t correlate with more gun deaths. But he did find one telling correlation: States with tighter gun control laws have fewer gun-related deaths.

“After a mass shooting in 1996, Australia adopted tougher gun control laws—and this resulted in a huge decrease in gun violence.

“Unfortunately, many of our legislators feel obligated to the National Rifle Association. Republicans received nearly $6 million in the 2016 election cycle; Democrats received $106,000. President Trump received at least $21 million from the gun lobby. At the same time, 90% of Americans support background checks for all gun sales.

“We can do this. At long last, we just need to summon the political will.”
The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR) works to ensure that people with psychiatric diagnoses have a major voice in the development and implementation of health care, mental health, and social policies at the state and national levels, empowering people to recover and lead full lives in the community.

CONTACT: Daniel Fisher, MD, PhD, NCMHR board president, info@ncmhr.org; 202-642-4480

No to Oppression Olympics

Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition Logo
1385 S. Colorado Blvd.  Bldg. A, Ste. 610
Denver, Colorado 80222
303.839.1775
www.ccdconline.org

Julie Reiskin
Executive Director
jreiskin@ccdconline.org
720.961.4261 (Direct)
303.648.6262 (Fax)

 

CCDC was made aware that yesterday an ADAPT leader Bruce Darling made an inappropriate comment saying that Democrats cared more about immigrants than people with disabilities.  Mr. Darling has apologized in writing for these comments and has acknowledged that this is inappropriate, divisive and that “oppression Olympics” serves no one.   We agree.

CCDC is proud of our long affiliation with ADAPT. Many of us at CCDC are ADAPT members and participate in ADAPT actions.   CCDC understands the frustration when politicians that use us to get elected ignore us.  This frustration is something communities of color have dealt with for decades and continue to deal with throughout the country.

The situation for immigrants in this country has reached a crisis point.  National “leaders” are bullying, threatening, belittling, and intimidating immigrants.  People who even have family members who are immigrants are being intimidated into not using services that they need.  This hostile climate is antithetical to what America is….after all, we are a nation of immigrants.  Only those who are Native American/Indigenous People are not from another country.  CCDC appreciates the lawmakers that are speaking out against the abhorrent conditions at the border, and fighting back against the mistreatment of immigrants around the country.    CCDC believes there is bandwidth for our elected officials to deal with more than one issue and that ignoring disability issues is due to ableism, nothing more and nothing less.

As a social justice organization, CCDC must speak out –otherwise we are complicit.  More than ever, we must be vigilant to not fall into the trap of frustration of blaming and othering. The current hostile and divisive political climate can and should be blamed, but it is because of this climate that we all must take extra care to be personally responsible and avoid these comparisons.   We must stand with our brothers and sisters (with and without disabilities) who are new arrivals as a matter of social justice and mutual commitment to a more equitable society.

We will not comment or opine on the intent of Mr. Darling.  It is never acceptable to pit oppressed groups against each other. We hope that the larger social justice community will not see these comments as reflective of the disability community. Our community is diverse and includes many people who have intersectional identities as immigrants, migrants, new arrivals and people with disabilities.   We are not immune to the racism and xenophobia that permeate our organizations and all American communities, but we are responsible to address it inside and outside of our organizations.

Restaurant Review from CCDC

 

You will not find restaurant reviews on the CCDC blog often, and almost never by me, but today is different.  CCDC took the members of our legislative team who were available to lunch today at Pizzability at 250 Steele Street to thank them for their many hours of tireless work this session.  They were an admirable team and deserved more than lunch.  However, lunch and our undying gratitude are what we can provide.  Our amazing community organizer Dawn Howard chose the location.

Like most restaurants in Cherry Creek North, it is physically small.  Unlike any other restaurant in that area where I have eaten, I did not feel in the way—even when I was objectively in the way.  In any space, when a bunch of us come in at the busy hour we can be..well…in the way.  It only takes a couple of wheelchairs, never mind some canes, walkers, dogs, and general klutziness to make us seem like we are taking over.   When we are doing an action that is exactly what we want, but when we go to eat out, whether individually or in a small group we do not want to feel as if our mere presence is an inconvenience.   So today we show up and our presence overwhelms the place both physically and logistically.  Yet we are greeted with warmth and genuine pleasure that we are there.   When I was objectively in the way blocking an aisle no one bumped into me, no one asked me to move, no one gave me “the look”.  No employee rushed to serve me quickly for the purpose of getting me out of the way.

Most of our crew had ordered but there were three of us left when I arrived.  The bill for three lunches in Cherry Creek North came to $16.   The food was good.  Most significant for me is that they had Gelato—I saw that and forgot about pizza.  The slices that my colleagues ate looked terrific.  They were big, and hot and had many varieties. Salads were an option also and non-alcoholic drinks appeared to be free with the pizza.  They had some alcohol for sale as well…soon they will have pairing suggestions.

As you might guess by the name, this is a restaurant that sells mostly pizza and most of the employees are people with disabilities, particularly people who appeared to have intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Most of the customers eating there today appeared to have disabilities as well.

My personal food tastes are more in line with other places in Cherry Creek North.  Earlier this week I had an hour in between meetings in that part of town and went somewhere else.  The food I like (and admit it is kind of ridiculous food) is more like an overpriced salad with things like goat cheese, grapes, and cranberries.  I had that with unsweetened tea (trying to be good diet wise) and while the food was delicious, and there was much more physical space in this place than at Pizzability, I felt completely in the way the entire time I was there.   It was uncomfortable.  While no one was rude or even unkind it was my presence was made people uncomfortable.   I had to ask several people to move to get to a space to eat.  I actually considered getting it to go even though it was raining and cold that day.  I am sure the people in this restaurant (staff and customers) would have been relieved had I just taken the food to go.  Today, when some of choose to sit outside at the tables (it was probably 60 degrees and felt lovely) they asked repeatedly if we were sure we were comfortable and offered to move things around if we preferred to be inside.  The offer was made in a manner that showed respect and that they valued our business.

There were other cool features.  The menus are paper and you circle what you wanted and write your name.  Accessible for Deaf folks and people that do not speak English, do not read, etc.  Some work would be required to make it accessible for blind folks (there is a menu online).  There was a “sensory corner” with various objects.  Each plate was different and they were painted by artists from the Access Gallery (an art gallery for disabled artists).

There did appear to be someone without a visible disability running things and the way she talked there was a training component for employees.  (I learned later on their facebook page that this is indeed a training program)The employees were working hard and seemed happy, and the work is real work that valued employees do in restaurants every day.  If part of the goal is to train workers for “integrated” jobs, I am sure that will work.  However, some employees may want to stay and be around others with disabilities.   Maybe some will become supervisors or trainers.  Maybe some will prefer to keep doing the great job they are doing today.

Is this segregated?  Maybe?  Not sure that it matters because it is a choice. Doing a good job and being paid for work, and continuing to learn and improve at one’s job is what adults do in our society.  Other groups have businesses that are primarily run by and serve specific communities.  They do not eschew customers from outside groups but they cater to their own communities.  This is how disenfranchized communities build economic power.  There are “pink pages” advertising gay-owned businesses.  There are Latinx and Black Chambers.  Why not promote and support more disability-run/disability positive businesses?  Non-disabled people can work and eat there but the atmosphere and culture stay disability positive.  Just like as a white person I can go to eatery owned, staffed, and patronized mostly by people of color.  I am welcome to show up but not to inappropriately take over the culture of the place (as white people often want to do).   Communities of color started and continue these businesses because there is an economic and cultural need for spaces that do not have to bend to the dominant culture.   That is cultural pride, not involuntary segregation.  We need to start understanding the difference.

We need businesses like this in our community..that is by and for our people.  Where non-disabled allies are welcomed but where our disability culture and our vibe will stay the dominant feeling.   We need to stop defining success by how much we interact with people who do not have disabilities.

I know that I preferred eating lunch in a disability positive environment, among not only my peers/colleagues with disabilities but among other customers and employees with disabilities.   I would rather eat in a place where I feel comfortable and welcome than in a place where I am obviously in the way.  The next time I happen to have an hour in between meetings in Cherry Creek North, Pizzability will get my business!  I encourage you all to do the same.  I am sure they will also welcome those of you without disabilities too.

2019 Legislative Session Wrap Up

This was a busy session as is typical whenever there is a new administration and many new legislators.  Despite some unfortunate partisanship that caused delays,  the reading out loud of 2000 page bills, hearings that occurred during a blizzard, and overnight sessions some great work did get done that will benefit the people of Colorado including people with disabilities.

Before talking about the bills, I want to call out the amazing CCDC team that worked at the Capitol this year.

  • CCDC Board Co-Chair Josh Winkler showed his typical leadership working some bills very hard, following the budget, and mentoring some of our newer volunteer lobbyists. Other board members that participated in the process were Scott Markham and Dr. Kimberley Jackson.
  • Our volunteer lobbying team consisted of Francesca Maes, Michael Neil, Jennifer Roberts, Haven Rohnert, and Linn Oliver with help from Jennifer Remington, Auralea Moore, and Tim Postlewaite.
  • Valerie Schlecht did a fantastic job as our contract lobbyist for mental health issues and stepped up on several other issues as a volunteer. Dawn Howard our community organizer, AKA Cat Herder in Chief did a great job making sure everyone knew what was happening, where people were needed, etc.

CCDC wants to thank our many partners, in particular the Arc of Colorado, Arc of Aurora, Arc of Adams, the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, the Colorado Children’s Campaign, 9-5 Colorado, ACLU of Colorado, Colorado Senior Lobby, Disability Law Colorado, Colorado Common Cause, PASCO, and Accent on Independence Homecare amongst others.  We also want to thank Colorado Capitol Watch for a great product that made tracking the bills easier.

Because this was a year with many new legislators and many groups rushing to push through bills that had struggled in years past, many of which were bills we were going to support, CCDC made a deliberate decision to NOT run our own proactive bills this year but to focus on our coalition work, and building relationships with the many new Senators and Representatives.   We laid groundwork for policies we want to promote over the next few years while focusing on the many coalition bills and responding to bills that affected our community.    We followed 139 bills.  This report shares the highlights-not every bill that we worked on during the session.

Housing:

This is being dubbed the year of the renter.    There were many bills that helped renters, along with some that will fund affordable housing.

  • HB 19-1085 Increases the property tax/heat/rent rebate program both the amount of the grant and the income limits for people eligible for this grant through July 2021.
  • HB 19-1106 Limits rental application fees to actual costs
  • HB 19-1118: Requires landlords to expand the notice before eviction from three to 10 days, hopefully giving people a way to either find a new place to live or cure the problem that led to the eviction
  • HB 19-1135 Clarifies that income tax credits for retrofitting a home for accessibility are available when one retrofits a home for a dependent.
  • HB 19-1170 Improves warranty of habitability in housing to make it work for tenants.
  • HB 19-1285 and HB 1332 Affordable housing funding
  • HB 19-1309 Creates mobile home park dispute resolution and enforcement program, also increasing time to move if there is sale or eviction.
  • HB 19-1328 Responsibilities of landlords & tenants to address bed bug infestations.
  • SB 19-180 Creates an eviction defense fund to help low-income people

Health Care:

  • HB 19-1044 Allows for an advanced directives for behavioral/mental health.
  • HB 19-1120 Multiple approaches to address and prevent youth suicide
  • HB 19-1151 Revisions to the Traumatic Brain Injury Program funded by the Brain Injury Trust Fund.
  • HB 19-1176 Enables a study of various methods of health care reform including an option for universal health care.
  • HB 19-1189 Reforms wage garnishment laws to take into account medical expenses and medical debt.
  • HB 19-1211 Reforms what health insurance companies can and cannot do regarding prior authorization. This is to stop insurance companies using prior authorization to harass doctors and deny patients.
  • HB 19-1216 Measures to reduce the cost of insulin.
  • HB 19-1233 Health care payment reform to promote increasing utilization of primary care.
  • HB 19-1269 Mental Health Parity-variety of measures to require both private insurance companies and Medicaid to pay for mental health care appropriately.
  • HB 19-1287 Increases treatment funding for substance use disorders
  • SB 19-001 Expands the Medication Assisted Treatment pilot program
  • SB 19-005 Gives state permission to request permission from the federal government to import drugs from Canada to give Colorado residents price relief
  • SB 19-010 Funds professional mental health services in schools
  • SB 19-073 Creates statewide system to allow electronic uploading of advance directive documents so in the case of emergency any hospital can ascertain the wishes of the individual. This is voluntary.
  • SB 19-079 Requires some doctors to submit prescriptions of controlled drugs electronically
  • SB 19-195 Creates a system to better coordinate children’s mental health policy
  • SB 19-222 Increases mental health services for people at risk of institutionalization
  • SB 19-238 Requires the 8.1% increase for personal care and homemaker be passed directly to workers, and sets up stakeholder group to address issues with personal care workforce.

THERE WERE A NUMBER OF BILLS RELATED TO THE COST OF PRIVATE INSURANCE AND HOSPITALS.  PLEASE CHECK OUT THE COLORADO CONSUMER INITIATIVE OR THE COLORADO CENTER ON LAW AND POLICY FOR REPORTS ON THOSE BILLS.

Good Government:

  • HB 1062 Allowing sale of property at the Grand Junction regional center
  • HB 19-1063 Allows information sharing between adult and child protective services and allowed people who are subject to adult protective services to see their own records.
  • HB 19-1084 Requires that staff of legislative council prepare demographic notes on certain bills. For a handful of bills each future session the citizens and elected officials of Colorado will be able to have research on how a bill affects specific (often underrepresented) populations.
  • HB 19-1239 Creates a grant program to do outreach for the 2020 census.
  • HB 19-1278 A variety of changes to election law making it easier for voters
  • SB 19-135 Requires a study of state procurement disparities to see if state contracting is being fair and inclusive to businesses owned by people of color, women and people with disabilities.

Education:

  • HB 19-1066 Requires schools to count special education students in graduation rates.
  • HB 19-1134 Research for better methods to identify dyslexia in young children
  • HB 19-1194 Limits schools ability to expel and suspend children in and below the 2nd grade
  • HB 19-066 Creates grant program to help defray costs of high cost special education students

Employment:

  • HB 19-1025 Limits employers’ ability to ask about criminal backgrounds (with appropriate exemptions) before employee goes through the application process.
  • HB 19-1107 Creates job retention and employment support as part of the Department of Labor and Employment
  • SB 19-085 Increases enforcement for those facing pay-based discrimination
  • SB 19-188 Creates a study of Family Medical Leave

Transportation:

  • HB 19-1257 and HB 19-1258 Brings to the voters a request for state to keep and spend excess revenue for transportation and schools
  • SB 19-239 Creates a stakeholder process to address the changes in transportation

Justice Systems:

  • SB 19-036 Creates pilot program to remind people of court dates
  • HB 19-1045 Provides funding for an office of Public Guardianship
  • HB 19-1104 Creates a right to counsel for parents who are facing custody loss to be represented through the office of respondent parent counsel.
  • HB 19-1777 “Red Flag” bill that sets out when a judge can temporarily take away someone’s gun if they are at imminent risk of harming themselves or someone else. CCDC was initially concerned that this might be based on diagnosis, but it was not.  It is based only on behavior, has many protections and excellent due process.
  • HB 19-1225: Prohibits money bail for some low-level offenses to avoid people being jailed for not having small amounts of money for non-violent crimes.
  • SB 19-172 Makes it easier to prosecute people that abuse at risk adults and makes it clear that inappropriate confinement is abuse and illegal.
  • SB 19-191 Creates defendants’ rights to pretrial bonds to reduce the number of people with low-level crimes sitting in jail just because they are poor.
  • SB 19-223 Reforms regarding the competency process in the criminal court system

State Budget (aka the long bill SB 19-207)

  • Increases personal care and homemaker rates for CDASS and IHSS by 8.1%
  • Funds housing inspections for host homes in the I/DD system for basic life-safety issues
  • Creates an Office of Employment First at JFK Partners
  • State funded SLS and Family Support Services waiver slots
  • Creates a Supported Employment pilot at HCPF for I/DD waivers
  • Provides funding for HCPF customer service
  • Provides funding for food and travel for HCPF Member Experience Advisory Council
  • Provides state mental hospital funding for Disability Law Colorado settlement

Disability Specific:

  • HB 19-1069 Allows Colorado to create our own certification system through the Colorado Commission on the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf/Blind CCDHHDB to adopt or develop a certification system for American Sign Language interpreters. This is address the shortage of interpreters, especially in the rural areas.  THANKS TO THE INDEPENDENCE CENTER OF COLORADO SPRINGS FOR LEADING THIS BILL.
  • HB 19-1151 Revisions to the Traumatic Brain Injury Program funded by the Brain Injury Trust Fund. THANKS TO THE BRAIN INJURY ALLIANCE OF COLORADO FOR LEADING THIS BILL.
  • HB 19-1223 Provides application assistance to people on the Aid to Needy Disabled program to help them obtain approval for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). THANKS TO THE COLORADO CENTER ON LAW AND POLICY FOR LEADING THIS BILL
  • HB 19-1332 Funds the talking book library
  • SB 19-202 Creates a path for accessible ballots for people who are print disabled to allow such individuals to vote in private in our all mail ballot system. THANKS TO THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND OF COLORADO FOR LEADING THIS BILL.

Overall it was a good year.  There were some disappointments, but there always are—now we have to make sure the bills we like get implemented and make sure people know about these new laws and programs.

 

 

Alert: RA for Access-a-Ride Users with Hearing Issues

If you are an RTD Access-a-Ride user or plan to be, RTD may provide a reasonable accommodation for persons with hearing loss.  The accommodation would allow user to use an email to make or change Access-a-Ride reservations.

For more information please visit RTD website at http://www.rtd-denver.com/accessARide.shtml

Click “Accessibility Services”

Scroll down to “Request Reasonable Modification

Nonprofits would benefit from FAMLI Act –By Julie Reiskin

Letters to the Editor | April 23, 2019

 

I direct a small nonprofit with not a penny extra, and I am in full support of House Bill 188, the FAMLI Act.

This law would give employees partial pay replacement during a personal or family medical situation. We have covered the full salary for our employees on medical leave. Is it hard when someone is off for an extended period of time? Of course, but staff pitch in and help because they know that when they need the coverage, their peers will step in for them. As a result, we have loyal employees who are able to really focus on the job when they are at work. FAMLI insurance will cost us less because employers and employees will pay the small premiums with a 40-60.

Our employees do not abuse this; they are eager to get back to work. Donors rightly expect a high level of accountability, and we take that very seriously. When we make the decisions to pay people while on leave, we do so because it is good business, not because it is “nice.” However, shouldering the entire cost is hard for us as a nonprofit. The FAMLI Act would help tremendously.

In summary, as a nonprofit employer with 30-years post-graduate experience, I can say with confidence that FAMLI is good for Colorado nonprofit organizations.

Julie Reiskin

Executive director, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition

 

Original Article: Nonprofits would benefit from FAMLI Act

OPINION | A couple of bills to boost affordable housing — without a tax hike

Picture of Clair Levy, Executive Director of the Center on Law & Policy
Picture of Claire Levy, Executive Director of the Center on Law & Policy

If you follow the news or talk to your neighbors, you know Colorado is in the midst of an affordable-housing crisis. The health and well-being of individual Colorado families is at risk as the cost of housing forces them to live in unhealthy homes, prevents them from having a stable place to live, and consumes so much of their income that they cannot afford other necessities or save money for an emergency. Hundreds of thousands of Coloradans are spending more than half their income on housing — a situation that puts them at risk of homelessness.

Colorado Center on Law and Policy began an effort to inject significant new funding into the budget for affordable housing in 2015. Yet, despite growing concerns, the legislature has only provided small amounts of funding for targeted high-cost populations such as people with mental illness and people leaving the criminal justice system. The legislature has not made a meaningful investment that would address the needs of the 275,000 ordinary Colorado households that are spending more than half of their income on rent.

For the fourth time in as many years, state legislators will have an opportunity to consider a bill that will help relieve the housing crisis without increasing taxes or redirecting funds from other priorities.

Developed by CCLP, House Bill 1322 would invest $30 million a year for three years in the Housing Development Grant Fund. That Fund provides grants and loans for a range of needs, including acquisition, renovation and construction of affordable housing, down-payment assistance, mobile home repair and rental assistance for a range of populations.

If HB 1322 is passed, Colorado Division of Housing would consult with stakeholders from urban and rural communities so that the funds address a variety of needs throughout the state. The legislation reflects input of stakeholders from urban and rural areas, convened by Democrats and Republicans in the House and the Senate.

HB 1322 doesn’t rely on taxpayer dollars or tap into the state budget. Funding will come from the unclaimed property trust fund. This fund holds dormant bank accounts, securities and life insurance proceeds and other abandoned property. While Colorado’s state treasurer makes a tremendous effort to find the owners of these abandoned accounts, hundreds of millions of dollars in the fund remain unclaimed. HB 1322 would put a fraction of that money to good use solving an urgent problem: the lack of affordable housing.

Sponsored by Rep. Dylan Roberts, Sen. Dominick Moreno and Sen. Don CoramHB 1322 has been endorsed by the Urban Land Conservancy, Enterprise Community Partners, Colorado Municipal League, Colorado Counties, Inc., League of Women Voters, Tourism Industry Association of Colorado, Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association, Housing Colorado, Colorado Apartment Association, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, Commissioners and Counties Acting Together, Habitat for Humanity Colorado, Interfaith Alliance, Boulder Housing Partners, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, city of Boulder, The Denver Foundation, Center for Health Progress, Colorado Senior Lobby, Colorado Bankers Association, 9to5, Denver Metro Fair Housing Center, Together Colorado, The Arc of Colorado, Denver Metro Fair Housing Center, Together Colorado and Wells Fargo Bank.

Legislators should also pass House Bill 1245. Sponsored by Rep. Mike Weissman, and Sens. Julie Gonzales and Mike Foote, this legislation would increase funding for affordable housing by limiting the amount of sales tax revenue Colorado’s largest retailers can keep as their “fee” for collecting the tax. The additional revenue would be transferred to the same housing fund within the Department of Local Affairs, and also would be used to preserve or expand the supply of affordable housing in Colorado. HB 1245 would provide roughly $23 million for housing in the first year and $45 million to $50 million per year thereafter.

Both HB 1322 and HB 1245 will help us begin to address the lack of affordable housing in targeted and creative ways without affecting taxpayers or other funding priorities. Both measures deserve support. Together, these bills could help thousands of Coloradans better afford a home so they can devote more of their hard-earned money to other essential needs.

Claire Levy is executive director of Colorado Center on Law and Policy, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that researches, develops and advocates for policies that improve family economic security and health care for all Coloradans. 

Original Article: A couple of bills to boost affordable housing — without a tax hike

Julie Reiskin quoted in Denverite regarding affordable housing for people with developmental.disabilities

“Julie Reiskin, executive director of the advocacy group Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, is not involved with Stepping Stone. Reiskin has an adult child with a disability and understands the concerns parents like Barbara Ziegler and Arendt have for their children.

“Some kind of permanent affordable housing is what they need,” Reiskin said. “What you’re talking about is someone with very low income.””

https://denverite.com/2019/04/08/parents-raise-funds-to-build-an-affordable-apartment-complex-where-people-with-developmental-disabilities-can-live-independently/


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